Dial S for solution to the �1 Mattishall phone box snag

Hopes are rising that a mid-Norfolk village's last remaining traditional red phone box, snapped up for a paltry pound by councillors, will cost the parish not a pretty penny to put somewhere else.

Mattishall Parish Council has taken up BT's offer to sell the weatherbeaten, run-down Burgh Lane kiosk, which has been stripped of its telephone equipment because it is surplus to requirements, for a token �1.

Members are keen to restore it, give it a fresh lick of paint and put it to another good community use, preferably in a more central location in the village if it is robust enough to survive the move.

The council has asked villagers to suggest ways of using the box.

Parish clerk Luisa Cantera said ideas put forward by councillors and villagers so far included creating an information point, book exchange or even 'Norfolk's smallest art gallery'.

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Another use, she added, could be to store defibrillator equipment inside in case of medical emergencies – something that had been done elsewhere.

'Of course, you have to bear in mind that when you step inside it is tiny,' said Ms Cantera. 'But it would be nice to find a good use for it.

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'It really does need to be renovated first. Our hope is to move it to somewhere much more prominent, do it up and do something useful with it.'

But after the bargain buy came a snag; BT warned that it could be as long as five years before it disconnected the electricity supply from the box, and the parish council feared the bill to have the job done sooner rather than later might spiral to �500 or even more. Now, though, after the EDP raised the councillors' predicament with BT, the company has said it is happy to discuss with them their plans for the old kiosk.

A spokesman confirmed BT would normally disconnect boxes within five years at its own cost. He said many communities had taken up the offer to buy obsolete phone boxes but, unlike Mattishall, they didn't necessarily want to move them.


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