Highland Council are appealing to the public to take part in a consultation on the proposed removal of 178 public BT payphones from remote areas across the Highland region of Scotland.
Individuals and organisations partaking in outdoor activities in the hills have expressed support for the payphones, which are often the only lifeline in case of emergency in areas with poor mobile coverage.
Mountaineering Scotland are lobbying to keep 50 payphones, which are located in mountain areas. David Gibson, Chief Executive Officer of Mountaineering Scotland, told UKC:
'Payphones in remote areas remain the most reliable form of communication available to the general public in areas where mobile signals are unreliable or non-existent, and importantly, in low temperatures when access to mobile signals are compromised due to mobile device batteries becoming inoperative due to the temperature conditions. We believe that the closure of such payphones could result in a risk to life in circumstances in which parties to a mountaineering accident seek urgent contact with the police and mountain rescue to assist those in difficulties.
'We are urging Highland Council to press BT for the retention of the 50 payphones we have identified as being in areas of interest to mountaineers as their removal could contribute to a failure to obtain assistance that would otherwise be available to mountaineers in need.'
An online consultation has been set up as part of a two-stage process to allow the public to voice their opinions on the proposals. Following the first stage of comments, The Highland Council will issue a first notice of decision, which will subsequently be open to further comment from communities and stakeholders.
Highland Council Leader, Cllr Margaret Davidson commented: 'Let’s be clear that this is BT’s proposal that we are consulting on and Highland Council is keen to know public opinion on all of these phones.
'It’s important that as many people as possible reply to the survey so that we can build an accurate picture of individuals’ and community views and needs.'
She added: 'I urge members of the public to respond to the consultation. People living in the areas of proposed closures are in the best position to know the impact the removal of a payphone would have on them and their community.'
Since Monday, BT have confirmed that they are no longer planning to close phones in the following locations:
01478640220 Highland Pco Pco Glenbrittle Isle Of Skye IV47 8TA
01470562206 Highland Pco Tighean-Na-Glibe Staffin Portree IV51 9JX
01855811223 Highland No.6a Kiosk Main Street 1pco Glencoe Ballachulish PH49 4HW