Call box on danger list is hanging on the telephone

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The call box on Reading Road in Wokingham has been vandalised, explaining why BT has no records of any calls being made from the site. Picture: Phil Creighton

THE OLD adage ‘don’t call us, we’ll call you’ could be applied here: BT’s planned consultation to remove a phone box from Wokingham has been criticised as it has been left vandalised for several months. 

Last week, a reader contacted The Wokingham Paper to express their concerns that the box on Reading Road by the junction with Holt Lane – and opposite St Paul’s Church – had been wrongly put on the list of booths to be removed. 

They argued that BT’s claim that the box had not been used for the past 12 months was laughable because the phone itself had been vandalised and not repaired. 

“I can’t be sure when I first noticed it,” they said. “It’s always been out of order, it’s probably been broken for a whole year. Every time I’ve gone past it, it always looks the same: out of order. The handset was on the floor, it’s just sat there like that. 

“The handset has vanished, and it’s never been mended.

“BT’s argument is ridiculous.”

And they said that the phone box needed to be kept for those that didn’t have a mobile. 

“I can’t understand why BT are saying no one wants to use it, it’s wrong. If it’s being used regularly, they would be emptying it of money.”

BT is currently consulting with Wokingham Borough Council about the proposed removal of the phone box, along with several others in the borough. The consultation runs until Monday, March 9. 

A spokesperson confirmed that no calls had been made from the box in the past 12 months, and that it had been contacted about damaged glazing on the exterior in March 2018. This was restored, but it had not been notified of ‘vandalism’ to the phone box since then. 

The Wokingham Paper visited the box last week, and it was as the caller described. 

A BT spokesperson said: “Most people now have a mobile phone and calls made from our public telephones have fallen by around 90 per cent in the past decade. 

“We consider a number of factors before consulting on the removal of payphones, including whether others are available nearby and usage. 

“We are consulting with Wokingham Borough Council on the removal of the phone box on the junction of Holt Lane, providing the community a chance to comment on the proposal.”

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