Many people believed that the adoption of the red phone box in South Bar, Banbury, which contains the Phone Box Library, by Banbury Town Council was a done deal following a Tweet by BT at midday today.
@BT_Care said: “A fairytale ending for the Banbury Phonebox Library. We’ve agreed ‘adoption’ with the local council. #SaveOurPhoneboxLibrary.”
However, Banbury Town Council has said a deal has not yet been struck as the authority is adamant it will only adopt the box if it will still have a working phone.
Council leader Kieron Mallon said the town council is willing to adopt the phone box and Hawkins Steel Ltd is willing to put in secure shelving, but reiterated this would not happen if it meant the phone was decommissioned.
He said: “We’re not going to adopt the last, unique red phone box in Banbury only for the phone to be decommissioned.
“The ball is very much in BT’s court but if there is a way of combining a proper working phone and the library we would be willing to adopt the phone box.”
The man behind the much-loved scheme has also expressed his reservations.
He said: “I’m not sure this is a victory.Such a brilliant offer from Hawkins though - absolutely wonderful! As for the multinational firm though: BT are proposing removing a loss-making phone that people in our town are using; a thousand and something calls in the last 12 months. That is massive! I really can’t see why the phone box can’t be used for both purposes, and so far BT haven’t given a reason either.
“No agreement so far from Banbury Town Council and I have to say that I share their reservations.”
A BT spokesman said: “Well, we made an appeal through the Banbury Guardian and Banbury Town Council has approached us to adopt this red phone box. BT is delighted that we are now negotiating a solution for the preservation of this Banbury treasure - the only red box left in the town.
“The local phone box ‘librarian’ has also been in touch with BT to play his part and another local firm has offered to build the shelving. When the adoption is sealed, with £1 from the council, we will be able to have it up and running within a week. Library life will return to normal and hopefully will go from strength to strength – and there will be fewer book puns around. The Banbury box would then join 2,400 other adoptees around the UK which now house tourist information points, an alehouse, heart defibrillators that have already saved four lives and many other useful uses.”