Residents come together to save Harrogate phone box library from closure

Pictured from left local residents, Holly Jones and Jane Kennerley, who want to save the phone box.
Pictured from left local residents, Holly Jones and Jane Kennerley, who want to save the phone box.

A community ‘library’ with a difference is under threat as residents take on a battle to save it from closure.

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The library, which has only been going for a year, could soon be taken out of use and the community are desperate to keep it going.

But this is no ordinary library - it’s a working phone box on a Harrogate street.

Jane Kennerley, an ex-librarian, set up the book-swap after seeing the idea succeed in other towns.

She said: “I love books and I always have. I’d seen this idea around and thought it looked really fun - it’s such a nice thing to do. So I left a couple of books in there with a note saying ‘help yourself’ and just hoped that people would get behind it. And they really did.”

Jane said the phone box library has taken on a ‘life of its own’, with lots of residents getting involved and regularly changing the books on offer.

The phone box, which is owned by BT, is being considered for removal after concerns over how much use it gets.

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A sign from BT, which reads: ‘our information shows that this phone box has had very little use over a significant period of time.

We’re therefore proposing to remove this phone box. There is a consultation period of 42 days from the above date (27/8/19). Please contact your Local Authority if you have any comments’ has been displayed.

The community is now banding together to ask Harrogate Borough Council (HBC) for support to ensure they can keep the phone box as a local hub. A group of residents have said they would happily take on the maintenance of the library if the unit stays open.

Jane said: “It would be such a shame to lose such a lovely feature. It’s a little community hub that brings everyone together.”

A BT spokesperson said: “Most people now have a mobile phone and calls made from our public telephones have fallen by around 90 per cent in the past decade.

“We consider a number of factors before consulting on the removal of payphones, including whether others are available nearby and usage. We are consulting with HBC on the removal of 58 phone boxes in the area, providing the community the chance to comment on our proposals.”

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BT said they are encouraging local communities to take part in BT’s Adopt A Kiosk scheme which allows communities to adopt an underused phone box for £1 to be converted into a local asset.