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Companies using phone boxes to ‘smuggle’ advertising onto high streets, LGA warns

The government should clamp down on companies installing telephone boxes on England’s high streets without permission in order to cheaply advertise to consumers, the LGA has said.

Current regulations allow companies to install telephone boxes without planning permission, but councils claim that they are increasingly becoming an “eyesore” to residents.

Current laws allow companies to easily install the boxes which often are “little more than advertising billboards,” according to the association. 

Under existing legislation, companies only need a licence from Ofcom to install a telephone kiosk, but the LGA says that the law is outdated, having been introduced in a “pre-digital era,” before mobile phones became widely used.

Councils can object to the placement of phone boxes based on design and appearance, but where the applicant appeals, the final decision is made by the Planning Inspectorate.

The LGA is calling for the government to scrap this law, claiming it would give councils greater control over the “excessive numbers” of telephone boxes appearing on high streets.

Research by the LGA found a 927% rise in applications for telephone boxes across 12 councils between 2015 and 2017.

As well as advertising, the LGA has warned that telephone kiosks encourage anti-social behaviour, such as fly posting and graffiti, and that when the phones are out of use, councils are “powerless” to remove them.

Cllr Martin Tett, planning spokesman at the LGA, said that the digital age has led to the telephone box becoming “a largely obsolete relic of a bygone era.”

Whilst he accepted that there remains a need for some telephone boxes for emergencies, he added: “Companies are exploiting a loophole in the law to allow what is tantamount to Trojan telephone boxes being used as advertising spaces rather than the original purpose of providing a place for people to use a phone.

“As a result, pedestrians are being bombarded with a series of eyesores that blight the public highway.”

He concluded: “Councils are currently powerless to act, so we want the government to overturn the existing out-of-date legislation and give local authorities the ability to take action where this is an issue.”

Top image: JohnFScott

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Robert   06/02/2018 at 15:10

This is ironic because when you Google search phone boxes in the UK you get hundreds of stories where members of the public are complaining about phone boxes being removed? Isn't it really a case of the local authorities not being able to make any money out of the advertising on these phone boxes that has them upset?

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