Removing the phone box in Homer – is this a blessing in disguise?

Shropshire Council has just received the listing from BT of 75 payphones in Shropshire that BT propose to permanently remove from service. One of these is in Homer.

BT has an obligation to consult with Shropshire Council with regard to the proposed removals, in accordance with guidance set out by Ofcom, the regulatory and competition authority for telecommunications . Shropshire Council, in turn, seeks the views of the Town Council and local residents. According to BT’s records, only two calls have been made from this phone box in the past twelve months.

Increasingly, the argument is made that mobile telephones are rendering payphones redundant for visitors and walkers. This wasn’t true when the mobile phone signal around Much Wenlock was poor or non-existent. Nowadays it is much better, especially since the communications mast at Easthope cross was commissioned.

On the  EE network, the signal was acceptable when I drove through Homer today. Other networks may not be as good – what’s your experience?

If there is no justification for retaining the telephone, the kiosk could be retained by the Town Council. In other communities they’ve been used as book and plant exchanges and, increasingly, to house defibrillators. These life-saving devices have saved the lives of many who have suffered cardiac arrest. Two of my longstanding former work colleagues’ lives have been saved in this way – one on South Staffs Golf Course and another at Chesterfield Football Club.

Easthope, Shipton & Stanton Long Parish Council have recently installed four defibrillators – two in redundant phone kiosks – in those three parishes and and in Brockton at the primary school. Meanwhile, there is also one in the Willey village phone box – easily accessible for residents in Linley and Barrow, and of course there’s one at the Leisure Centre, and four in Broseley.

At its September meeting I mentioned that we now have a fourth defibrillator in town, thanks to Much Wenlock Town Council . Apart from the school, the three are all within 250 yards of each other – at Pinefields Close, the Fire Station and the Corn Exchange. Homer, with 100 properties, is 1.3 miles distant and Bourton is 2.8 miles down the B4378 and these communities do not have easy access to these lifesaving devices. I urged that early consideration is given to provision of defibrillators to these outlying settlements – where residents of course pay Council Tax to Much Wenlock.

If you have a view about retention of  telephone to the box in Homer, or views about its future use, I suggest that you make contact with the Town Council without delay – 01952 727509, townclerk@muchwenlock-tc.gov.uk. Or, of course, you can contact me at any time.