Scores of the Borders’ telephone boxes look set to scrapped, but objectors are calling on BT to spare what they describe as vital lifelines for the communities they serve.
The telecommunications company is beginning consultations on the closure of 104 of its 161 phone boxes in the region.
More than a dozen of the boxes facing the axe are in and around Hawick, with three in Kelso, two in Selkirk, two in Peebles and five in Galashiels also under review.
Others in locations including Melrose, Lauder, Gordon, Earlston, Duns and Coldstream face closure too.
The closure plans are causing concern as many of the remote areas potentially affected suffer from poor mobile phone signal and some are in reception blackspots with no service at all.
According to BT, usage of telephone boxes has declined by more than 90 per cent in the last 10 years, due to the rising popularity of mobile phones, rendering phone boxes redundant.
Payphone removal is controlled by the Office of Communications (Ofcom), meaning that BT has to adhere to strict guidelines, including consulting Scottish Borders Council, before proceeding.
It must also put a notice on any phone box at risk stating that it is about to remove it, giving users the chance to register objections.
Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire MSP John Lamont is among those opposed to the closure plans, saying: “I am highly concerned by plans to close nearly two-thirds of the Borders’ phone boxes and have been contacted by a number of worried constituents.
“These phone boxes provide a lifeline for many rural communities, both for visitors and the people who live there.
“While their usage has inevitably fallen, it remains vital to many local communities to continue to have access to a phone box where mobile phone reception is patchy or non-existent, and for those who choose not to have a landline.
“In an emergency, the closure of these payphones could cause real problems.
“The key to keeping them lies with Scottish Borders Council’s reaction to these plans. Anyone who shares my concern must send the council the clear message that our phone boxes are important and should be safeguarded.”
A BT spokeswoman said: “Any removal of payphones is carried out in strict adherence to Ofcom guidelines and, where appropriate, with the consent of local authorities.
“In all instances where there’s no other payphone within 400 metres, we’ll ask for consent from the local authority to remove the payphone. Where we receive objections from the local authority, we won’t remove the payphone.”
Hawick and Denholm councillor Watson McAteer shares his concerns, saying: “There are about 13 in Hawick, with the most used one being at North Bridge Street, near the lane to Bourtree Place, which has taken 125 calls.
“The proposal to take them all away, through lack of use, is certainly a worry.
“I do understand that many people now use mobile phones, but the phone boxes still provide an emergency service in bad weather and when the mobile network is down.
“It is very important there are enough phone boxes strategically placed in the town and countryside.”
The O/S Post Office Ladykirk
O/S The Cross Inn Pco Paxton
Pco Pco Hutton
Pco Pco Grantshouse
Main St Pco Gavinton Pco Winterfield Gardens Duns
Polwarth Pco Greenlaw
Opposite Village Hall Pco Preston
Pco South St Duns
Longformacus Village Pco Longformacus
Village Hall Cranshaws Pco
Pco Pco Cockburnspath
Hoggs Law Old Campus Pco Cockburnspath
Steele Rd A.T.E. Newcastleton
On The B6357 Nr Larriston
No.1 Silverbuthall Rd Hawick
Pco 1pco Rosebank Rd Hawick
Nr Oliver Park Weensland Rd Hawick
Corner Bourtree Pl North Bridge St Hawick
Pco 1pco Cogsmill
Grid Nt44/4510 Carters Cott Pco Newmill On Teviot
Pco Telephone Exchange Hawick
Pco Pco Chesters/Southdean
Nr Jcn Hawick-Newcastle Rd Pco Bonchester Bridge
Near Cleuchhead South The Forkins
Pco Bedrule Farm Hawick
Pco Pco1 Craik
Pco Poynder Place Kelso
Pco 1pco Sprouston
Pco 1pco The Linn Kelso
O/S The Smithy Ednam
Pco 1pco Nenthorn
1pco Fans Farm Earlston
Pco Main St Gordon
Pco Pco Mellerstain
Pco Pco Lempitlaw
Pco Pco Cessford
Pco Pco Morebattle
Pco Pco Heiton
Lay-By O/S No 6 Edinburgh Rd Lauder
Adj To Bus Shelter Galashiels Rd Stow
Pco Telephone Exchange Eden Rd Gordon
O/S Telephone Exchange Pco Fountainhall Galashiels
Pco Horsbrugh Ford Cardrona
Pco Pco Eddleston
Pco Post Office Kirkton Manor
Pco Pco Blyth Farm Road Blyth Bridge
Near Stobo Schoolhouse Pco Peebles
Jcn A7 Pco Galashiels
Jnc Raeburn Meadow Bleachfield Rd Selkirk
Pco Scotts Place Selkirk
Lay By On A7 Pco Cransfield Drive Ashkirk
O/S Cafe And Bistro Pco 42200 Selkirk
O/S Telephone Exchange Pco Ettrickbridge
Ettrick/Selkirk Rd Selkirk
O/S Village Hall/Ettrick Pco
Pco 1pco Longnewton Village Newtown St Boswells
Outside Post Office Pco Bowde
Pco 1pco Nr Po Maxton Maxton
Pco Pco Ancrum
Pco Sandystones Ancrum
O/S Camptown Exchange 1pco Jedburgh
Pco Pco Mossburnford
Pco The Bountrees Jedburgh
Pco Oxnam Mains Jedburgh
O/S The Croft 1pco Lanton
Pco 1pco Bongate Jedburgh
Pco Howden Rd Jedburgh
Pco The Avenue Broad St Eyemouth
Pco Bennison Square Eyemouth
Pco Upper Burnmouth Burnmouth
Near Ayton Lamberton
Pco The Crofts Ayton
Pco 1pco Edrom Village
Pco Main Street East End Chirnside
Pco Lammerview Chirnside
Pco Pco Birgham
Pco Main St Leitholm
Pco Main St Eccles
Fogo Village Pco
Pco Pco Simprim
Pco Magdala Terrace Galashiels
Corner Of Tweed Rd Abbotsford Rd Galashiels
Pco Balmoral Rd Galashiels
Pco Huddersfield St Galashiels
Pco Larchbank St Galashiels
Pco Smiths Rd Darnick
Pco Pco Gattonside
Pco Main St Newstea
Pco Ballantyne St Innerleithen
Pco Hall St Innerleithen
Pco Yair Galashiels
Bus Lay-By Jnc A72 Meigle Row Clovenfords
Pco Galashiels Rd Walkerburn
Drumelzier Sub Post Office Pco
Pco Dreva Rd Broughton
Broughton Central Broughton
Pco Braeside RomannoBridge