60p to make a phone call

PUBLISHED: 16:01 11 November 2010

I realise it is a changing, money-grabbing world, but, on my daily stroll around Exmouth, there are many topics that make me scratch my receding head and twiddle my beard, and wonder what thought, if any, went into that.

For example, it was reported in the Journal just a few months ago that the phone boxes around what was the beautiful Strand Gardens were losing money. Indeed, BT claimed that it wanted to pull the plug. “The mobile phone era” had stopped the need for these red boxes.

However, under the much heralded Exmouth Enhancement and the wisdom of Devon County Council’s rural design team, we now have several recycled, rusty kiosks planted on the perimeter of this concrete jungle, prime position, no business rates to pay and, clearly, a licence for BT to print money.

The user must insert four non-returnable coins into the box, amounting to 60 pence (that’s 12 bob in my language) to be inserted before being connected. If and when you are connected, and you are told that your girlfriend is washing her hair, that’s 12 bob profit for greedy BT to pocket. It was bad enough to lose 10 pence, but now it’s 60p!

Walking past the sports centre in Imperial Road, I notice there has been new signage erected on the walls. I enquired with a group of women outside, who appeared to work there, as to why money was spent on new, unnecessary signs, when no one had bothered to clean out the rainwater guttering, which is overflowing with weeds and grass, so, when it rains, all the rainwater runs down the walls of the building.

Now, all it needs is a pair of simple, small stepladders and a scoop.

I offered to sign a disclaimer stating that, if I fell off a stepladder, my next of kin would not sue for damages, but I was quite willing, and able to offer my services free of charge to do this simple job, therefore saving the taxpayer the expense of cherry-pickers, safety harness, flashing lights and whatever ‘elf and safety’ demand.

No doubt they thought I had two feet in the grave and stone deaf, but they all turned their backs...

Roy J Penberthy,

13 Langstone Drive, Exmouth.

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