Villagers take to ‘swap shop’ telephone box

Beer’s ‘swap shop’ is going from strength to strength, but it may have to be abandoned if funding for a village information centre is granted.

The parish council bought the old phone booth on Barline in the village, and since November has been using it to allow residents to swap unwanted seasonal items with others in the community.

Martin Cox, the councillor who has helped organise the project, says the response from the locals has been wonderful.

But the ‘swap-box’ was only ever meant to be a temporary measure, as ultimately the council want to move the former BT phone box to the centre of the Beer and use it as an information centre for the village.

And Cllr Cox said they will soon find out if their application to the county council’s ‘Investing in Devon’ fund for more than �2,500 is successful.

If so then the telephone box would be moved to the Mariners Hall where Cllr Cox said it would be ‘an emblem of communication’ in Beer, with information and wireless internet access.

This would mean its current use as a swap shop would be lost, and Beer Parish Council has agreed to look into continuing the service in some other way, given its success.

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Cllr Cox said after a slow start villagers have warmed to using the ‘swap-box’, and the contents are regularly replenished with new items, including books, CD’s and DVD’s, and even fruit and vegetable from people’s gardens.

He said there was a bumper crop of apples last year which meant the box filled up with them, and hopes people might put unwanted seedlings in soon.

He added: “Someone told me there were two vacuum cleaners in there last night, and when I walked past this morning there was only one, so people are obviously using it.

“When I first started it I hadn’t envisaged it being used for vacuum cleaners but it’s just great that it’s being used by people.”