'Don't take away our phone box - it's nice to look at,' say Chorley village residents
The booth on Rawlinson Lane in Heath Charnock is one of eight which BT wants to disconnect across the borough, with fewer people now calling on the out-of-favour facilities.
Before a box is removed, locals are given the option to adopt it and coin another way in which it can be used. Some have been turned into informal libraries or used to house emergency resuscitation equipment.
Heath Charnock Parish Council says that residents living opposite the iconic feature have pledged to maintain it – even though they are not particularly hung up on what to do with it.
“They just feel that it’s been there such a long time that it’s become part of the landscape – so they have agreed to keep it clean and look after it,” explained parish council clerk Christine Bailey.
“There is a possibility that we could incorporate it into a planting feature. It’s in a very rural setting, so we have to think carefully about what an appropriate use for it might be.”
But other parts of Chorley have not shown the same sentiment for their forlorn phone boxes – no other area has expressed an interest in saving the roadside dialers. The majority of the others under threat are of the more modern design introduced in the mid-1980’s.
Out of the eight due to be removed, the number of calls made last year range from just eight – on South Road in Coppull – to 326 on Eaves Lane on the outskirts of the town centre.
Chorley Council, which can attempt to veto the removal of a phone box, is not expected to oppose any of BT’s proposals – other than for the booth which residents want to retain in Heath Charnock, from which 32 calls were made last year. Local authorities can object on grounds of safety and convenience – such as whether a box is close to an accident blackspot or if there is poor mobile reception in an area.
Cllr Yvonne Hargreaves told a meeting of the authority’s planning committee that it was “very sad” that no other areas had opted to save their soon-to-be-surrendered phone box.
It is 95 years since the first red phone booth appeared on British streets.