Communities rally round to save the traditional red telephone box

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But time and technology have not been kind to the traditional kiosk, with thousands taken out of service in the face of neglect and the increased use of mobile phones.

Now, however, 500 of the booths are to be saved, after local communities stepped forward to safeguard their future - ensuring that in some places at least they will remain a quintessential part of the British landscape.

In 500 locations, parish and district councils have applied to 'adopt a kiosk', as part of a BT scheme to rid itself of unprofitable telephone boxes without having to scrap them altogether.

Under the scheme, which closes tomorrow, local authorities have been able to apply for ownership of a telephone box, taking responsibility for its long-term upkeep and maintenance.

As part of the deal, the telephone equipment is removed by BT, leaving the new owners free to retain the box as a design feature adorning a particular street corner, village green or High Street.

Among the first places to apply to adopt a red telephone box when the scheme was launched in August, was the Warwickshire village of Lighthorne.

Josette Tait, chairman of Lighthorne Parish Council, said: "Our red telephone box is a focal point for our village and is part of its overall identity and heritage. We're pleased that BT devised this scheme allowing communities to preserve their much-loved red kiosks."

In some cases applicants to the scheme have come up with inventive ways of putting Sir Gilbert Scott's 1930s design, officially known as the K6, to good use.

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