Payphone must stay at Civic Centre, say councillors

Each telephone call made from a payphone at Uckfield Civic Centre costs the town council £14.24 now compared with £1.89 in 2012.uckfield-town-council-un

Just four calls were made between April 2015 and July 2015 and 58 in the course of a year, but a majority of councillors voted in favour of keeping the payphone so that people who needed it would still be able to use it.

The total cost of the equipment was said to be £251.88 for a year plus call charges, while the possible income was about £15. From April 2015 to July 2015 the income was £3.

A report to members of the council’s general purposes committee last night said there was a payphone available in Tesco and one outside the Post Office and, in the event of a “genuine emergency”, the public could use the town council or restaurant telephones.

Councillors were asked to resolve that the payphone be removed from the Civic Centre but Cllr Diane Ward (Trust Independent, Central) led a call to keep it.

She said: “If a little old lady needs a phone and hasn’t got a phone, not everybody has a mobile –  sometimes people’s batteries die or they can’t get them to work; if there is a kid who doesn’t have a mobile or has been beaten up and had their mobile pinched, it is nice that the Civic Centre has a payphone.”

Cllr Keith Everett (Independent, Ridgewood) pointed out that the report said Civic Centre phones could be used in an emergency but Cllr Paul Meakin (Liberal Democrat, Central) joined the call to keep the payphone. He said the demographic of people who used the restaurant meant they “would not have a smart phone in their bag”.

He said a small amount of money was being spent on a good service for part of the population in the town who used the restaurant, and he wanted to see it continue.

Two councillors opposed keeping the phone. They were Cllr Everett (Independent, Ridgewood) and Cllr Paul Sparks (Liberal Democrat, North)

General purposes committee members present at the meeting were:

Chair: Cllr Ian Smith, Independent, Ridgewood
Vice chair: Cllr Paul Meakin, Liberal Democrat, Central
Cllr James Anderson, Trust Independent, North
Cllr Louise Eastwood, Trust Independent, North
Cllr Keith Everett, Independent, Ridgewood
Cllr Helen Firth, Conservative, Central
Cllr Paul Sparks, Liberal Democrat, North
Cllr Diane Ward, Trust Independent, Central

Apologies were received from:
Cllr Jacqueline Beckford, Liberal Democrat, Ridgewood.

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