Luccombe village phone box ‘like an insurance policy’

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Residents of a village on Exmoor fear they will be unable to call 999 if their only phone box is removed.

The kiosk, in Luccombe is one of a number earmarked for removal by BT in part of Somerset and a consultation on its future is under way.

Mobile phone coverage in the area is described as patchy, and many homes no longer have a landline.

BT said the kiosk is being used once a month and is looking to see if the facility is still needed.

It would not comment on the number of 999 calls made but described the number of them from at risk payphones as “extremely small”.

A BT spokesman said one of its engineers had verified Ofcom mobile coverage maps and there was that “at least some outdoor mobile coverage” from three mobile providers at the location.

But he added even if your mobile had no signal or credit an emergency 999 call could be made from any available network.

Plans for a mobile phone base station in a nearby church were halted after bats were found in the tower.

Henry Harington, chairman of the parish council, said there was no useful mobile phone service in the village and the box should remain should stay until this was not the case.

He likened the payphone to an insurance policy “you hope you never have to use”.

As the BBC was filming, resident Ann Churchill used the phone as she had lost electricity so her house phone would not work.

“It’s happened to me before, when I came back from Italy in February, a tree had brought my phone line down, I couldn’t even tell my daughter I was home safe.”

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