Battle of the phone box is lost

A BATTLE to see a traditional red telephone box returned to its home in a Suffolk village has today been knocked on the head – despite being just a day old.

A BATTLE to see a traditional red telephone box returned to its home in a Suffolk village has today been knocked on the head – despite being just a day old.

Babergh District Council announced it was launching a fight against telecommunications giant BT to get a listed telephone box – a focal point of the village for more than six decades – returned to its rightful home in Bildeston.

But BT has today ignored the council's plea. It says the phone box was damaged beyond repair and added, in no uncertain terms, "It will not be replaced."

Emma Littlejohn, BT spokesman, said: "If a listed payphone is damaged beyond repair then we are not required to replace it and this phone was underused so a decision has been taken not to replace this one.

"As the listed structure does not now exist, it will not be replaced.

"We have written to the council explaining the situation. However, if they want to discuss this further with us then we are of course more than happy to do so."

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The council has now threatened legal action.

Richard Watson, head of planning (control), said: "By removing the phone box BT committed an offence and Babergh is going to have to consider whether it should prosecute the company.

"When the box was damaged the appropriate course of action for BT was to do the minimum works necessary to make the situation safe and to advise Babergh.

"If they wanted to remove the remains of the box they should then first have obtained the consent of the council."

The kiosk is a K6, or Jubilee kiosk, designed in 1936 by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott. It was of just 3,000 installed before 1939 and when BT announced plans to replace the old-style kiosks in the mid 1980s, public outcry led to a nationwide programme of listing the original K6s.

The box was removed after it was damaged during an attempted robbery at the village's post office.

The council said the phone box was an essential part of the character of the village.

Desmond Keane, district councillor for Bildeston, said: "I think it's outrageous and that's the feeling of the locals.

"The parish council is up in arms and the whole village feels let down.

"It was part of the market scene, along with the square, clock tower and village shop.

"We thought it was just being taken away for repairs but now tarmac has been put down and there's no sign it will even be replaced.

"If it was a listed private house, all hell would let loose. I don't see why a listed phone box is any different."

Do you think the phone box should be returned? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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