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Phone box switch to a swap shop is right call

PUBLISHED: 09:00 12 August 2011

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(C) by RICOH R8 User

A REDUNDANT red telephone box in a village has been converted into a swap shop for books and a public notice board.

When British Telecom rang Little Bentley Parish Council in Essex offering to sell them the old telephone box for £1, councillors were quick to pick up the bargain on behalf of the village.

Nigel Dyson, vice-chairman of the parish council, said: “BT has decommissioned telephone boxes in a lot of rural areas and we jumped at the chance to purchase the one in our village and convert it into something useful again.

“I think there was wide-spread support for it to be used as a public notice board, but then someone asked if it could be used as a book-swap facility as well so we put in a couple of shelves.

“The service is now up and running and hopefully it will be well used. The village notices were put in this week.

“There are already a few books in there and I’m sure we will get a lot more soon.We would encourage anyone in the village to put a book they’ve finished reading into the telephone box and swap it for another one which is in there.”

The old telephone box, which is outside the Bricklayers Arms in Little Bentley, was converted with help from Mike Taylor and John Leggett.

In 2002 there were 92,000 payphones across the UK, but now there are about 12,500.

Public phone use has dramatically fallen in the past couple of years, with only 3% of adults saying they had used a BT payphone.

At the same time, mobile phone ownership has soared to around 90% of adults.

A BT spokesman said: “For many towns and villages, the phone box is part of the community’s history and identity.

“People just don’t want to have an empty space where the phone box once stood.

“If you want to protect it for future generations, you can apply to take ownership of it.”

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