Monday, November 07, 2016

Mop and broom-wielding villagers fight to keep their telephone box

Villagers in Elsted Marsh, West Sussex, have launched a campaign to save their telephone box. They say with a poor mobile signal in the village and weak reception, the land line in the phone box is the only form of communication in an emergency. They also want to preserve it a piece of English heritage much admired by tourists to the area.

Villagers and locals at the Elsted Inn opposite the much loved phone box have now launched a petition, headed by long standing resident Russell Kyte. It has branded BT’s proposal ‘inappropriate’ and calls for removal plans to be cancelled promising that in return residents will look after the phone box. They have sent copies to BT, South Downs National Park Authority, Chichester District Council and Elsted, Treyford Cum Didling Parish Council calling for their support to keep the phone box.

In recent years the box has been cleaned on a regular basis by villagers keen to preserve their piece of history. Landlord of the Elsted Inn Malcolm King said: “One of our regulars Dave Marshall, who is passionate about heritage matters, also offered to refurbish the telephone box a while ago. It took him about five days and he did it to a very high standard including priming, top coating and highlighting the royal crown. Not long after it was finished BT put a notice on the box saying had been very little used over a long period of time and they were proposing to remove it.

“We all talked about it and decided this isn’t going to happen.” He said, given the South Downs National Park was encouraging visitors to the area and there had been an increased in walkers and cyclists, villagers felt emergency communication was important in an area where the mobile service was unreliable. “It’s also a pice of our heritage. We get lots of overseas tourists staying at the pub including Americans and Dutch people who all go and stand beside the telephone box and have their photographs taken.” Villagers have plans to also make the telephone box a book exchange point if they win their fight to keep it.

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