Update: ‘It’s BT’s call to save Banbury’s phone box library’

BT Care have put a letter in the Banbury Phone Box Library saying the books will be removed due to health and safety reasons, much to the anger of town residents. NNL-150219-095753001
BT Care have put a letter in the Banbury Phone Box Library saying the books will be removed due to health and safety reasons, much to the anger of town residents. NNL-150219-095753001

Banbury Town Council has said it will not be party to the loss of a working pay phone from a red telephone kiosk that is currently doubling up as a library.

Books and shelving were first placed in the phone box on South Bar at the end of last year to create a community exchange, but the initiative became the centre of a social media storm last week when BT gave a March 3 deadline for their removal.

But following a #SaveOurPhoneboxLibrary Twitter campaign which has attracted national and international attention, Banbury Town Council has today, Tuesday, reiterated that it will only adopt the phone box from BT if it can be retained as a library and a public telephone.

Leader of the council Kieron Mallon said: “A Banbury resident came up with a bright idea to use the phone box as a book exchange, but after a complaint BT ordered that the books be removed.

“BT indicated that the phone box could be adopted and Banbury Town Council offered to take it over. Banbury company Hawkins Steel volunteered to build safe shelving.

“BT, however, is adamant that dual use is not possible.”

Cllr Mallon added: “The phone box was used 1,100 times last year and the users are probably those who do not Tweet or have mobile phones.

“It would be a shame for Banbury’s last iconic red phone box to be decommissioned, and the town council will not be party to its loss.

“The town council’s offer to BT still stands, and it is now BT’s call.”

Around 2,400 red telephone boxes around the UK have been adopted from BT and turned into community facilities such as tourist information points, libraries or a home for heart defibrillators.

However, it is understood BT has yet to give permission for a phone box to be used for a dual purpose such as that being requested in Banbury.