Thursday, 27 July 2017

BT's Phone Booth Scam

Another pointless phone booth in Shepherd's Bush
What's The Point of Phone Booths? We asked this question back in January, noting that they seem to be springing up everywhere, despite everyone nowadays having a mobile phone.

Thanks to the Hammersmith Society and the Ladbroke Association, we now have the answer.

It's not about telephones, it's about advertising. According to the Summer 2017 Ladbroke Association newsletter, phone companies like BT "can make a lot of money selling advertising space". Today, a phone booth is "no more than a hooded upright stand with an advertisement on one side and a telephone on the other".

But if this is - as it seems - just an advertising scam, without fulfilling any public need - why does our Council allow this to take place?

The problem
The problem is that BT and the other phone companies don't need planning consent to stick a phone booth in the middle of the pavement. This is because phone kiosks occupying less than 1.5 square metres have "permitted development rights", ie they do not need planning permission - at least outside of conservation areas.  Further, there exists what is called "deemed advertising consent", meaning that consent for advertising is presumed to exist - so the phone company can stick a massive ad for KFC on the side of the kiosk.  Kerching!

The solution
The answer is for local councils to apply to have deemed consent removed. This consent can be removed, but only "by a government direction under the Control of Advertisement Regulations".

According to the Hammersmith Society, RBKC are planning on doing this. So what is needed is for our council, London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, to do this as well.

Once that is done, the phone companies would have to apply for planning permission, which could then be refused on the grounds that there is no need for a phone booth.

In the meantime, we all need to key an eye on the planning portal at LBHF, and start objecting to phone booths.

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1 comment:

  1. Hi, we should take a lesson from Leeds where the (blue) phone boxes give a free and fast wifi connection