BT has announced that it is widening its telephone services portfolio to meet the various demands of users of its network of public telephone boxes. As part of the new plans the Company will work closely with some local authorities, who have currently been closing public lavatories following government cuts, to look at providing official toilet facilities along with standard pay phone services.
A BT spokesman said, “Over the years our public telephone boxes have traditionally doubled as urinals in many towns and cities. Under the new scheme people will be able to choose whether to make a call or instead to pay-a-call with impunity.”
The new boxes will be designed to hygienically dispose of urine and faeces and other stubborn bodily fluids with the press of a button thereby making the box ‘safe’ for the next user.
However, criticism has been received from other quarters including civil liberty exponents who fear that the new style phone boxes, although addressing human functions, may affect basic human rights.
Director of Liberty, Shami Chakrabarti said, “Closing decent public lavatories and substituting them for tiny boxes like these is a clear infringement of the rights of people who use them for other activities – using the private sector to make provision for them will we fear lead to charges being made for cottaging and the posting of sex worker advertisements.”
In a recent Ofcom poll of public telephone users it was found that people over the age of 60 and living in suburban or rural locations were most likely to be against the new plans. Melcombe Horsey resident Florence Daley said, “As winners of the best kept village in Dorset for the past two years we have decorated our own public call box with scented flowers and garden gnomes, we are certainly not in favour of bringing out the vacuum cleaner to clean out new-fangled pissoirs and potential paedophile-pods.”
Meanwhile Birmingham City Council has welcomed the move and the first public pay-a-call box will be officially opened outside Wetherspoons in Broad Street at throwing out time on Saturday night.