It is good to talk – but apparently only on mobiles

FIVE SADDLEWORTH phone boxes remain on a BT hit list to be removed after a successful fight to save an iconic kiosk in Uppermill.

Phone box at Carr Lane

Greenfield could lose three boxes along with Denshaw and Springhead losing one apiece under BT proposals due to underuse and the proliferation of mobile handsets.

BT launched a statutory 90-days consultation period on September 8, immediately triggering opposition from Uppermill residents to the removal of the telephone box outside Saddleworth Museum.

Last month, the Independent reported how Uppermill Community Association joined forces with Oldham and Saddleworth Parish Councillor, Nikki Kirkham, to save the High Street kiosk.

The remaining five on Ripponden Road in Denshaw, Cooper Street in Springhead, Shaw Hall Bank Road, Chew Valley Road – at the top of Wellington Road – and Carr Lane, all in Greenfield, haven’t yet found any potential saviours.

These pictures show the boxes on Ripponden Road – the last one before junction 22 of the M62 – and Carr Lane are of the traditional, popular red design.

The rest are more modern in appearance, including Cooper Street which has no door.

Greenfield’s last remaining red, working box is outside the Clarence Hotel. There are no immediate plans to take it out of service.

Oldham Council launched its own consultation with the public and BT state they will not remove boxes where there is objection from the local authority.

The kiosk on Chew Valley Road

Alternatively, they offer community groups a chance to ‘adopt a kiosk’ if boxes are decommissioned.

Nationwide, thousands of community groups have adopted kiosks for uses. In Cheltenham, a box has been transformed into a miniature art gallery while in Brighton two businessmen turned their box into a tea and coffee point.

A BT spokesman said: “BT is committed to providing a public payphone service.

“But with usage declining by over 90 per cent in the last decade, we’ve continued to review and remove payphones which are no longer needed.

“Any removal of payphones is carried out in strict adherence to the Ofcom guidelines and, where appropriate, with the consent of the local authorities.

“In all instances where there are no other payphone within 400 metres, we’ll ask for consent from the local authority to remove the payphone.

“Where we receive objections from the local authority, we won’t remove the payphone.

“As an alternative to removal, we will continue to actively promote our Adopt a Kiosk scheme to all councils while being committed to maintaining the payphones that remain.”

Oldham Planning Department are obliged to publish a draft report confirming if they consent or object to the removal of each box.

A copy is forwarded to the Secretary of State and to “such persons as it considers appropriate.” Objectors are asked to “be very clear about the reasons for doing so.”

Last month BT announced they are rolling out new boxes offering super-fast wi-fi, free calls and chargers for phones, instead of traditional handsets. The new kiosks will start opening up on major high streets in London from next year.


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