A phone kiosk in a Huntingdonshire village is to be taken out of commission and replaced with a defibrillator, according to BT.

The telecoms firm has had permission from Huntingdonshire District Council to cease operating the payphone in High Street, Catworth, and hand over the facility to the Community Heartbeat Trust (CHT).

BT is working with the Community Heartbeat Trust to adopt a number of telephone kiosks across the UK, with CHT campaigning for underused telephone kiosks to be converted into vital medical facilities for local communities.

In a letter to the district council, BT's Derek Seaton said: “[The CHT] proposes to install defibrillators in kiosks in areas where ambulance response times can be slow or access difficult.

“The defibrillators, which shock a heart back to its normal rhythm using hands free electrodes, are fully mobile and increase survival rates following cardiac arrest by up to 50 per cent.

“BT fully supports the charity, which has now installed a number of defibrillators in adopted kiosks across the UK. Communities have been adopting telephone kiosks for £1 through BT's adopt a kiosk campaign.

“Call usage from payphones is in steep decline with many rural payphones not being used at all. CHT would like to adopt and fit a defibrillator in the kiosk at High Street, Catworth. The payphone is cashless and serves little purpose.”

In consultation with the district council, Catworth Parish Council gave its approval to the application, welcoming the possibility of a defibrillator in the village.

According to BT, the defibrillator will be fitted once the funding is available.

For further information on the Community Heartbeat Trust and its Adopt a Kiosk scheme visit the website www.communityheartbeat.org.uk.