Chance for Hungerford and Lambourn to adopt red phone kiosks for £1
HUNGERFORD and Lambourn local councils have been offered the chance to adopt their iconic red telephone kiosks - for the princely sum of £1.
Telecoms giant BT has designated 375 red phone boxes for the 'Adopt a Kiosk' project across the south east - and the town and the village are the only ones in West Berkshire to have been selected.
The largely redundant facilities, once a lifeline of communication before the arrival of mobile phone networks, have been transformed into everything from defibrillator units and mini history museums to art galleries and book exchanges.
Hungerford's High Street kiosk is believed to date back to 1937, the only surviving one of the original three.
Hungerford Town Council has rejected previous offers involving the High Street kiosk as too costly to the taxpayer.
Town mayor Helen Simpson said she would be keen to discuss the latest offer with colleagues and suggested the kiosk could be used for a floral display or to store public information leaflets.
However, she added that she would prefer to see it moved from its current position due to concerns over road safety.
The Hungerford High Street kiosk has been in the news periodically over the years because some residents fear it creates a hazard to pedestrians using the adjacent crossing by blocking motorists' view.
But if the town council did decide to adopt it, any bid to move it could prove complicated.
BT spokesman Rodrigo Couttenye said: "Telephone boxes, or any other movable structure, that are on Historic England’s protected register - such as this one - can only be relocated with special permissions.
"The town council should in the first place contact West Berkshire Council’s heritage team.
"If the town council gets the necessary permissions to relocate the box, then we’ll give them an estimate for the cost of the work or they could adopt the box and arrange their own relocation."
Meanwhile BT's south east regional spokesman, Jon Pollock, said: “We’re rationalising our payphone estate to make it fit for the future, and the ‘Adopt a Kiosk’ scheme makes it possible for local communities in the South East to retain their local phone box, with a refreshed purpose for the community.