Dozens of phone boxes across Fife are to be removed unless they are adopted by local communities for alternative use.
BT has begun a 90-day consultation on the removal of 42 phone boxes throughout the kingdom after a massive drop in people using them over the last decade.
North East Fife will be the worst hit area if the plans go through unchallenged, although Kirkcaldy, Dunfermline, Kelty, Lochgelly, Glenrothes and Coaltown of Wemyss will also lose public access lines.
However, BT is giving local communities the chance to effectively ‘adopt’ their traditional red phone box for just £1 and turn them into a local asset, provided the plans meet the approval of the company and Fife Council.
North East Fife SNP MP Stephen Gethins has urged residents of towns and villages across Fife to take the opportunity of making use of the iconic phone boxes in their communities.
He said: “I know some communities will wish to keep their phone box as a working phone and it is really important that BT considers this.
“For some areas, particularly rural locations, access to a payphone, especially for emergencies, will be reassuring.
“However, there are a number of phone boxes which BT said are not being used and could be turned into community assets.
“I know that villagers in Letham, which adopted its phone box four years ago, use it to house the community defibrillator, while others have used them for book swaps and art galleries.
“I have now written to every community council in North East Fife affected to make them aware of the consultation and would ask anyone with concerns about the potential loss of their local phone box, to get in touch.”
Most of the boxes earmarked for the axe have seen no calls made in the last 12 months, although some of the phones have been used hundreds of times.
For example, 1,011 calls were made from the phone box at Dunearn Drive in Kirkcaldy, 600 were made from the one in Kirkcaldy’s Hendry Road, and 305 calls came from the box at the junction of Collydean Way and Piper Drive in Glenrothes.
Rick Thompson, payphone planning officer at BT, confirmed the 90-day consultation process has started, and explained the company’s reasoning behind the move.
“Overall use of payphones has declined by over 90% in the last decade and the need to provide payphones for use in emergency situations is diminishing all the time, with at least 98% of the UK having either 3G or 4G coverage.
“This is important because as long as there is network coverage, it’s now possible to call the emergency services, even when there is no credit or no coverage from your own mobile provider.”
Phone boxes under threat and the number of calls made in last 12 months:
Colinsburgh: Main Street – 12
Kilconquhar: Main Street – 2
Methil: Methilhaven Road/Kirkland Walk – 1
Foodieash – 0
Cupar: Balgarvie Crescent – 14
Cupar: Bonnygate – 310
Cupar: Cupar Road/Cupar Muir – 1
Cupar: Braehead – 0
Cupar: Blalowan Park – 18
Ceres: High Street – 102
Craigrothie: Cupar Road/Ceres Road – 0
Lathockar – 0
Peat Inn – 3
Radernie – 0
Largoward: St Andrews Road – 1
Blebocraigs – 0
Balmullo: Lucklawhill – 0
Kingsbarns: High Street – 5
Bow of Fife: Pitlessie Road – 0
Den of Lindores – 0
Falkland: South Street – 1
Tayport: Banknowe Drive – 1
Tayport: Linksfield – 3
Rosyth: Admiralty Road – 101
Dunfermline: Henryson Road/Gilfillan Road – 37
Dunfermline: Scott Street – 201
Dunfermline: Broomhead Drive – 0
Dunfermline: Tweedale Drive/Aberdour Road – 59
Dunfermline: Abbey View – 207
Dunfermline: Townhill Road/Donald Street – 101
Kelty: The Pleasance – 0
Oakley: Wardlaw Way – 0
Markinch: Balbirnie Street – 9
Glenrothes: Central Avenue/Church Street – 267
Glenrothes: Collydean Way/Piper Drive – 305
Glenrothes: Rhynie Road/Torphins Avenue – 26
Kirkcaldy: Cairnwell Place/Dunearn Drive – 1011
Kirkcaldy: Hendry Road – 600
Kirkcaldy: Frances Road/Boreland – 1
Coaltown of Wemyss: Main Street – 0
Lochgelly: Lumphinnans Road – 142