Hornton phone box appeal made for defibrillator to be utilised

The Hornton phone box is scheduled for removal. Concerned parish councillors, from the left, Roger Bellamy, Tim Hewlett and chairman, John Offord with the village defibrillator. NNL-171001-152812009
The Hornton phone box is scheduled for removal. Concerned parish councillors, from the left, Roger Bellamy, Tim Hewlett and chairman, John Offord with the village defibrillator. NNL-171001-152812009
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Villagers are attempting to save their public call box so a newly installed defibrillator can be used to save lives.

The BT phone box in Hornton was only used 14 times last year and the company wants to remove it but because mobile phone coverage is so bad in the village in the valley, residents claim they must save the public phone.

“The defibrillator box can’t be unlocked without a code given by calling 999 and we just can’t trust mobiles because the signal is awful here,” said Hornton Parish Council chairman John Offord.

Villagers are being asked to respond to a consultation being carried out by Cherwell District Council, appealing for the BT box to be preserved.

“We deliberately had the defibrillator positioned next to the payphone when we got it early last year,” said Mr Offord.

“The Methodist Church offered to let us put it on their building which is across the road from the call box.

“We’re right down in the valley here and mobile phone signal is very poor. Worse than that it’s not consistent.

“It never entered our heads when we were looking for somewhere suitable for the defibrillator to go that BT might want to take it away,” he said.

“Only 14 calls were made on the phone last year and we accept that BT have a right to consult on taking it away.

“There are some criteria that will persuade them to let the boxes remain. One is the level of rental properties so that people without landlines are not disadvantaged. But the level of rented homes here is not going to sway them.

“Another is whether the box is near an accident blackspot, which this isn’t. And another is if there isn’t a good mobile signal. We’ve done exercises to test that here and sometimes there is a signal, sometimes not.

“The value of the defibrillator becomes more dubious without the callbox.”

Mr Offord said: “We’d only have to have one person have a heart attack and not be able to get the code to have a potential disaster. Time is critical.

“Going in search of a home with someone in and with a landline would waste precious time,” he said.

Those wishing to support appeals for the callbox to remain should write to Community Infrastructure Director Kevin Larner or email kevin.larner@cherwellandsouthnorthants.gov.uk