Council plea to save phone box

Honiton Town Council appeal to residents to help restore the K6 red phone box.

Honiton Town councillors are far from ready to hang up on the town’s red phone box and have issued a plea for the community to help restore it.

In a meeting last week councillors urged the council to consider retaining the K6 model phone box in Joslin Lane instead of selling it to preserve part of the town’s heritage.

In previous discussions it had discussed selling the red phone box which it had purchased under a national prgramme rolled out by BT - allowing communities to take ownership of the box free of charge.

It had been proposed that it would be moved outside Allhallows Museum to be used as an information point.

The cost of moving the phone box was estimated at �600 in 2009 with additional costs involved in making a planning application.

Councillor David Foster said: “I don’t think it has any value . It is not in very good condition and we should sell it at its best price.”

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He told the council that money would be better spent on the youth centre and felt the cost of moving it was ridiculous.

Councillor John Zarczynski said: “It could be utilised and the box moved to another location. It could be moved to the community complex. It would be a waste to just dispose of it and let someone else make money out of it.

“The phone box is part of our history and as the years go by the boxes historical value could be more than it is today. I personally feel we should retain the box and repostion it in a more ideal location at a future date. It is not in anyones way or causing an obstruction or danger. We should leave it well alone.”

During the meeting Councillor Bayliss said other communities had used its old phone boxes for community projects such as libraries, book exchanges and tourist information centres and one had become the smallest pub in England.

Councillor Roy Coombs feared it could set a precedence on other historical items and felt repainting and replacing the glass would not cost a great deal of money.

He said: “I can’t justify spending �1500. If it is left where it is it won’t cost �1500 to remove.”

Councillor Cornwell urged the council to be business like in its decision and ensure the phone box is not a liability or won’t become one in the future.

Councillor Vivienne Ash, said: “We should retain it on the site and look at ways of funding the painting and repair from the community. If we can’t achieve that we should come back and look at this in a business like manner. We should give the community the opportunity to say if they want to keep it.”

A recorded vote was taken on the matter - Councillors Pavey, Zarczynski, Taylor, Coombs, Corke, Howard, Bayliss, Ash, Tirard and Whitlock voted in favour of keeping the red phone box and looking into ways of engaing the community in its repair and repainting.

Councillors Councillors Foster and Groves voted against the proposal while Councillors Harman and Cornwell abstained.

The matter will be looked at again in six months time.