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Trojan' telephone boxes

Tuesday 06 March 2018

Councils say so-called 'Trojan' telephone boxes are serving as advertising boards - not as places to make phone calls and the increase in applications for installing the kiosks has increased more than 900% in two years. "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," councilor Martin Tett, planning spokesman for the Local Government Association, said. "As a result pedestrians are being bombarded with a series of eyesores that blight the public highway."

New generation phone boxes often resemble a touchscreen kiosk rather than familiar red booths. Under the current law, companies only need a license from Ofcom to install the boxes - and the increase in the number of applications for the facilities has increased dramatically. Westminster alone received 180 applications for the boxes in 2017, compared to 13 in 2015, While Newcastle saw the number of its applications jump to 95 from 1 and Lambeth saw a jump from one to 71.

"The rise of the smartphone and digital age has seen the telephone box become a largely obsolete relic of a bygone era," Cllr Tett said. "While there is still a limited need for some telephone boxes in our town centres and cities, for example for emergencies, the number of applications councils have seen is simply staggering. "Councils are currently powerless to act, so we want the Government to overturn the existing out-of-date legislation and give local authorities the ability to take action where this is an issue."

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