Abandoned Phoneboxes

Meeting: 
MQT on 2004-10-20
Session date: 
October 20, 2004
Reference: 
2004/1364
Question By: 
Joanne McCartney
Organisation: 
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor

Question

Abandoned phoneboxes left over from a no longer trading phone company blight some of the high streets in my constituency. These are becoming a magnet for flyposting and vandalism. Ofcom has washed it's hands of dealing with these boxes and tried to pass the responsibility to local councils, but they face legal as well as financial barriers to getting them removed.

This problem highlights a growing problem in London. More and more companies are leaving similar abandoned street and pavement furniture on our high streets. Leaving this solely to councils to remove will result in a hotch-potch approach to their removal and continuing untidiness on our high streets.

Can the mayor tell us, what if any powers he has to address this and similar problems through Capital Standards, TfL where it is the relevant highways authority, or through any other powers?

Answer

Answer for Abandoned Phoneboxes

Answer for Abandoned Phoneboxes

Answered By: 
The Mayor

The phoneboxes in question number 1,400 across London, and are all owned by Interphone. Recently, the sale of 1,000 sites to NWP Spectrum was completed, and this company has commenced a 12-month programme of replacement with new units and guarantees of maintenance put in place. There are still approximately 400 sites, therefore, remaining in Interphone ownership, of which around 100 are on the Transport for London road network. TfL intends to serve notice on Interphone, under the Highways Act, to either remove or repair those units that are on Transport for London roads. If they fail to comply, then the units will be disconnected and removed by Transport for London, with the costs being recovered from Interphone. The boroughs need to deal with this problem on their roads as well.

Dealing with this issue has involved an investment of significant time and cost by Transport for London and borough staff, and raises some questions about the legislation governing the telecommunications industry, and we are discussing these with Ofcom.

The Capital Standards Network has also been in communication with NWP Spectrum, who have reported that they intend to reinstate a large number of Interphone's redundant phone boxes, but have no intention of removing those redundant units it does not wish to reinstate. Unfortunately, Capital Standards has no power to prevent similar problems in the future, as such installations have generic planning permission. Our discussions with Ofcom have also received the same response as yours, although I have asked my policy director to contact Ofcom again. I suggest this is a good issue for the Environment Scrutiny Committee to investigate.