Last call for phone boxes in borough?

More than 30 public payphones across the borough could be removed from the streets under new plans drawn up by BT.

Residents are being urged to have their say on proposals to get rid of 33 phone boxes in a consultation which is now under way.

BT wrote to Wigan Council planners about removing the boxes due to them rarely being used.

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The full list shows only three out of the 33 were used more than 100 times in the last 12 months, with the most popular phone slated to be removed on Manchester Road in Astley opposite the Miners Arms where 382 calls were made.

In addition a phone at the junction of Laxey Crescent and Wigan Road in Leigh was used 199 times and one in the forecourt of Longshaw Post Office in Billinge had 160 calls placed from it.

However, BT’s list also shows that 12 of the boxes have not been used at all in the last 12 months and a massive 23 out of the 33 have been used fewer than 10 times in the same period.

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.

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

“In all instances where there’s 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 whilst being committed to maintaining the payphones that remain.”

BT says phone boxes are now rarely needed as 98 per cent of the UK has either 3G or 4G coverage which means residents can still dial the emergency services as long as they have network signal, even if they have run out of credit.

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Traditional red heritage phone boxes can be adopted by communities to become a local asset.

Karl Battersby, director, economy and environment at Wigan Council, said: “The council has received a consultation from BT on the removal of 33 public payphones across the borough which have been identified for removal due to low levels of usage. A response is required by the middle of December.

“Any representations that members of the public or other interested parties wish to make will be take into consideration.”

To have your say email views to [email protected]