British Telecom should not axe phone boxes in areas where there is no guarantee of a good mobile signal from several providers, according to South Scotland MSP and Scottish Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Connectivity and Transport Colin Smyth.

The local MSP was making the comments as it was revealed that BT plan to axe a further 650 phone boxes across Scotland- around 20% of the national total.

BT have previously axed 1,500 boxes. The latest cuts would leave about 2,600 phone boxes – a reduction of more than 60% since 2003.

The planned cuts include over 200 in the South of Scotland include 37 in Dumfries and Galloway, 13 in East Ayrshire, 32 in East Lothian, 12 in Midlothian, 95 in the Scottish Borders and 9 in South Ayrshire.

Commenting on the news Colin Smyth said, “Public phone boxes are still very important to many communities across the South of Scotland, especially in rural areas. These cuts are yet another depressing erosion of services in rural communities to add to the loss of Post Offices, banks and cash machines. It’s fine for BT to say that most people now have mobile phones but that isn’t the case for everyone and coverage isn’t always great. BT should at the very least give a clear guarantee that no phone box will be removed in an area where there is not good mobile phone coverage from several providers in that area, not just one. Ideally they should reconsider these cuts or local councils should ensure they object to any cuts that will impact adversely on communities in their area”.

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