Government urged to hang up on ‘billboard' phone boxes

Mon, 13/03/2017

Westminster City Council has attacked plans to install 80 phone boxes in landmark locations across the city.

The council will lobby Government for a change in the law to prevent the new boxes being built after receiving applications for prior approval from Telecom Company Maximus Networks Ltd to install public phones on many of the most famous roads in the city including Oxford Street, Victoria Street and Baker Street.

Few people still use public telephones and the council believes that the scheme offers very little benefit to the public, particularly as the proposed telephone boxes offer no wi-fi or internet connectivity.

Each box in the plans submitted would provide 1.3m x 2m of advertising space and a notice of prior approval leaves councils limited power to prevent the scheme going ahead.

Adverts can be displayed on new phone boxes without local authority consent and so the council is seeking further powers from Government to prevent advertising clutter.

Cllr Daniel Astaire, Cabinet Member for Planning and Public Realm said: “We think this scheme will create ugly advertising hoardings on some of our most iconic streets.

“Maximus is using the popularity of our city for its own gain. Frankly, it’s totally unacceptable and we will do everything in our power to prevent the phones being installed.

“This proposal might have been acceptable in the 1950s but very few people use traditional phone boxes now and the installation of 80 more will serve no community purpose in twenty-first century Westminster.”

The City Council is looking to minimise street clutter and restrict advertising on street furniture especially in historic parts of the city.

Last updated: 29 March 2017
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