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Community / End of the line for over 20 payphones across isles

Network operator BT, however, is offering the chance for communities to take on a phonebox

There are 47 payphone in Shetland within 400 metres of the coastline. Photo © Mike Pennington (cc-by-sa/2.0)

AROUND 20 payphones in Shetland are in line to be removed from BT’s network due to lack of use.

Most of the payphones set for the chop have an average of zero calls per month.

A payphone in Uyeasound has an average of two calls per month, however, and one in Walls has around one per month.

Six payphones in the Sandsting & Aithsting area are in line to be removed from service, while three in Walls & Sandness have been targeted.

Three have been selected in Unst, while the other areas in BT’s list are Lerwick, Leon/Ollaberry, Voe, Cunningsburgh, Quarff and Yell.

The full list of phoneboxes can be found below.

BT has written to Shetland Islands Council about the proposed removal of the payphones, which is undergoing consultation. Community councils are involved in the process.

Overall use of payphones has declined by over 90 per cent in the last decade, BT said, and with the rise of mobiles their future remains bleak.

However, there may be some light at the end of the tunnel for the phoneboxes under threat.

BT continues to offer the opportunity for communities to take ownership of phoneboxes the company no longer needs.

Local communities, councils and charities across the UK have previously “adopted” red boxes and have used them for a range of purposes, such as housing defibrillators to hosting a foodbank.

It only costs £1 to adopt a phone box, and more information can be found on the BT website.