Safety concerns over payphone removal

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Larne councillors have objected to plans by BT to permanently remove a damaged public payphone at Drains Bay car park.

The telecommunications company contacted Larne Borough Council recently to inform them that the kiosk, adjacent to 156 Coast Road, had been damaged beyond repair as a result of an accident and was removed on safety grounds.

Having carried out an assessment of the need for a payphone at this site, and taking into account usage levels and maintenance costs, BT has decided not to replace the kiosk.

They also stated that the nearest payphone is located opposite 32-36 Killyglen Road in Larne.

But before BT can remove the service for good, they have an obligation to consult with Larne Council, seeking any comments or objections received from the local community.

At the local authority’s latest monthly meeting, chief executive Geraldine McGahey acknowledged that while most people now own mobile phones, she pointed out that the reception in the Drains Bay area is not always reliable.

She further highlighted that, as the payphone was located near a beach, there was a public safety issue to consider.

Cllr Bobby McKee proposed that the kiosk should be retained and relocated close to the bus shelter in the village to avoid further accidents.

“A lot of people use that beach and Carnfunnock Country Park,” he added.

This was seconded by Ald Roy Beggs, who said: “We should make it clear that we want to retain the service in Drains Bay, regardless of usage levels.”

The proposal was resolved by members.