Back in November 2018 we appealed for help from the public to report to us any telephone boxes in need of repair. Here is an update from our chairperson Jo Edwards, as published in the Colchester newspapers.
On behalf of Colchester Civic Society, I recently wrote to ask the town’s residents for information about their local BT phone kiosks. The Society, concerned by the condition of kiosks, had offered to check those within the old Borough Boundary if BT provided their locations. We were amazed to discover that BT could not do so as this information is confidential! We were really pleased with the response from the people of Colchester who contacted us with information about kiosks throughout the town and, through your letters page, we would like to thank those who got in touch. Armed with the ‘intelligence’, we embarked on an audit of the kiosks. We found all 42 and compiled a detailed report. We checked whether the kiosks actually had a phone (several didn’t and one was completely devoid of anything at all). In kiosks with a phone, we checked whether that phone was working. We reported damage to kiosks; the listed red box at East Bay had 46 panes of glass missing! We commented on general cleanliness, graffiti, fly posting, torn advertisements etc. The final report sent to BT included the information that only 12 out of 42 phone kiosks were fully operational. Their response was almost instantaneous. Obviously horrified, they gathered a team of 6 engineers together and descended upon the town. In the days before and after Christmas, they visited every kiosk, repairing phones, replacing missing, discoloured or lichen covered Perspex or glass with new, replacing lights, cleaning etc. We think the work is now complete. They did an absolutely amazing job and we are very grateful to them. Some kiosks may be repurposed – some might soon house defibrillators, for example. A small number might be removed altogether but not without a good deal of thought.
BT engineers no longer routinely check public telephone kiosks but they will respond very quickly when issues are reported to them. The Civic Society will check kiosks periodically but we would ask Colcestrians to take a couple of minutes to contact BT themselves if they notice a problem. To report a fault or damage to a BT Payphone please email BT with the telephone number and location of the faulty phonebox, together with the nature of the fault and your contact details. Send your email to: firstname.lastname@example.org Meanwhile, if anyone is interested in joining the Colchester Civic Society or finding out what we do, please visit our website www.colchestercivicsociety.co.uk or phone me on 01206 868254.
Since our initial survey and BT’s excellent response our team have undertaken two more surveys. During the first in January 2020 we found that 10 underused boxes had been removed and one now contains a defibrillator. Only three didn’t work and, again, BT’s response was prompt and engineers came to sort.
The second survey in September 2020 told us that another underused box had been removed and only one was out of action. Again, we contacted BT.