RED telephone boxes are becoming increasingly rare and they could be set to disappear completely.

Mobile telephones mean that traditional telephone boxes are used much less than in the past despite some areas in rural south Shropshire where mobile reception is poor.

Shropshire Council has received a listing from BT of 75 payphones in the Shropshire Council area that BT propose to permanently remove from service.

BT has an obligation to consult with Shropshire Council with regard to the proposed removals. A formal 90-day consultation has therefore commenced with the council, as set out by communications watchdog Ofcom.

During the 90-day period, Shropshire Council’s job as the local planning authority is to seek views from local town councils and parish councils and to include any views from local councillors, residents, policing teams etc, in order to help it to reach a decision.

“This is a real opportunity for local communities to think about the usage of their payphones, and whether they need to remain operational to serve residents and visitors, or whether the community would perhaps find benefit from their removal, or from adopting them for a community use such as defibrillator storage,” said Gwilym Butler, Shropshire Council’s cabinet member for communities, place planning and regulatory services.

“We are aware that there are continuing concerns around poor mobile phone coverage in Shropshire, and would urge local town councils and parish councils, and any interested members of the community, to let us know if this is an issue in your area, or if there are other reasons we should object to removal of the payphones.”

This is a two-stage process, with an announcement of the council’s draft decision in each case after the initial minimum 42-day phase; and a further one month period for local views to be sought, before a final view is reached.