BT threat to riverside lifeline

Vicky Hills says the red pay phone is often the only option with mobile phone signals weak or non-extistent.
Vicky Hills says the red pay phone is often the only option with mobile phone signals weak or non-extistent.

BT is under fire because it wants pull the plug on a riverside phone box and allow a heart charity to replace the pay phone with a defibrillator.

A defibrillator is used to check heart rhythms and may re-start someone’s heart if they have gone into cardiac arrest.

But the phone box on East Bank, Sutton Bridge, could also save lives if there is an accident on the River Nene or the A17 because signals for some mobile phone networks are poor or non-existent.

Parish councillor Jenny Rowe told the Free Press: “It’s needed there. Many years ago, when the bridge was swung, a car went into the river and people died. I am going back a long time – to the late 70s or the 80s.

“Of course it’s needed if there’s a problem on that side of the river.”

BT wrote to the parish council saying the telephone kiosk is little used and its retention cannot be justified.

The phone company said The Community HeartBeat Trust would like to adopt the kiosk and install a defibrillator.

The parish council decided on Tuesday to write to BT and say it wanted the kiosk kept as a phone box.

Parish councillor Vicky Hills contacted BT last year asking it to repair the phone box, which had broken glass, and to repaint it.

She had to send a reminder to prompt them to do the work.

Mrs Hills said: “It was filthy.They eventually got it cleaned up. I suppose that’s why they want to get rid of it – they don’t want the hassle of maintaining it and I think that’s the truth of the matter.”

She says the phone box is vandalised and the same thing would happen to a defibrillator.

The red kiosk on East Bank, Sutton Bridge, is a listed building, which means it shouldn’t be changed without planning consent, and is considered a key part of a proposed conservation area.

A BT spokesman said: “This box was identified as a good candidate to have the public pay phone removed and to house a defibrillator. The box is rarely used and there’s another phone box nearby. We’re more than happy to look at the concerns raised directly with the parish council and will contact them once we receive their reply to the information supplied to them.”