Pictured above is the telephone box at Newmans Green that is threatened with removal.
The story of the proposed extinction of around forty or so rural telephone boxes made the front page of the Suffolk Free Press last week, with worthies queuing up to pronounce that this was another nail in the coffin for rural life etc. etc. Well I am sorry but I have to beg to differ. I very much welcome the removal of little used, outdated, facilities such as these.
And they’re ugly too! There is nothing attractive about the more ‘modern’ style telephone boxes. In fact I think that they are a blot on the landscape, as the picture above attests.
The boxes that have been marked out for closure are by definition little used, and are in this day and age little needed. British Telecom has no statutory duty to maintain them when no one uses them and they clearly don’t. The neglected state of the Newmans Green box can be seen clearly in the second picture. There is grass growing INSIDE the box, and there is what can be politely called ‘dirt’ all over stainless steel cladding which still bears the dents from the most recent attack by vandals. Actually the only person that I feel a pang for is Mrs. Jane May who, when a Parish Councillor, went to so much trouble to get the box restored when it was torched by local incendiaries a few years ago.
I have asked a number of people in Waldingfield Ward for their opinions about this matter, and although some have the feeling that the loss of the boxes is a pity, almost all admitted that they themselves hadn’t used one for years!
It has been argued that the poor and needy use the boxes in case of emergency. Actually, I think that the vast majority of people these days have their own land line phones at home, or at the very least emergency bleepers. I hope that society does not still expect people to struggle out of their houses in all weathers to use one of these often vandalised and generally malodorous relicts of the past. Shame on society if it does!
It is also argued that they are useful for motorists who have accidents. However, it would be very lucky to have the accident close enough to the box for it to have any useful role in calling the emergency services! In any event, one of the main reasons that most women these days have mobiles is to enable them to make calls from cars at times of trouble.
In fact the only people I have ever seen using the box in recent years are clearly shady characters who for whatever reason do not wish their calls to be recorded on their itemised phone bills!
We would all be better employed saving our breath and fire power to fight for facilities that really matter, such as rural shops, post offices and transportation.