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Conservationists attack phone kiosks which mean ‘more street clutter’

Ten new BT kiosks set to come to Islington but conservationists rebel

15 September, 2017 — By Emily Finch

BT kiosks will be peppered around Islington – leading to conservationists attacking planning chiefs 

CONSERVATIONISTS have attacked planning chiefs after approval was given for 10 new BT phone kiosks with advertising boards along Islington’s main roads.

The LinkUK kiosks, with touch screens and keypads, provide free UK landline and mobile phone calls and wifi. People can also charge their phones.

LinkUK is a partnership between BT, urban innovation company Intersection and advertising firm Primesight.

The kiosks have internally illuminated advertisement boards on both sides. Applications for 10 new units were approved by Islington Council’s planning committee last Monday.

The Islington Society and Better Archway Forum had objected to the kiosks. “I’m astonished that they have approved these,” David Gibson, chairman of The Islington Society, said. “It is yet more street clutter, which the council should actually be reducing.

“The stupid thing about it is that the technology changes so quickly. In a couple of years they will be redundant, but they won’t take them away, because all they are is advertising.”

Kate Calvert, of Better Archway Forum, added: “It is a great shame to see the council permitting basic public space like our pavements to be handed over for private profit, with no real public service or benefit.”

Councillor Angela Picknell, acting chairwoman of the committee, said the sites were “carefully chosen” by planning officers so that they would not endanger road safety or contribute to environmental clutter.

“Anecdotal evidence suggests that the stations are proving useful and popular where they have been placed,” she said.

“On the other hand, I’m very aware of the danger of creeping accumulation of obstacles and light pollution on London streets.

“It’s important that planning committees are vigilant in keeping such developments in proportion. However, I don’t think a blanket refusal is the answer.”

Each kiosk will involve the removal of two BT phoneboxes. This will reduce clutter, which has been welcomed by police, Cllr Picknell added.

BT said funding will come from the kiosks’ digital displays. The company “intends” to allocate five per cent of the advertising airtime “to non-commercial good causes to benefit local communities working with councils”.

Neil Scoresby, BT’s general manager for Payphones and InLinkUK, said: “The new units in Islington will replace existing phone boxes, taking up less space, roughly two thirds less than a traditional phone box, on the pavement. The new units will also see a reduction in the total number on the street, as they will be installed in smaller numbers than the phone boxes they replace.

“Residents, visitors and businesses in the borough will benefit from free use of the fastest available Wi-Fi in the UK and free calls to UK landlines and mobiles. With InLinks, users can also call the emergency services, use maps to help navigate their way around the borough, access a range of information including council services and charge mobile devices.”

BT had applied for 63 units, with 53 refused.

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