Action agreed over 'smelly' Blackpool phone boxes

Coun Alistair Humphreys
Coun Alistair Humphreys
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Councillors have backed calls to tackle BT over unsightly telephone boxes in Blackpool which attract criminal behaviour including drug dealing.

A call to write to the Home Secretary about the issue received unanimous support from both parties at a meeting of the full council last night.

Coun Alistair Humphreys had submitted a notice of motion saying while some pay phones are a community asset, others ‘can also be a source of and cause of crime.”

He said the council should call upon British Telecom ‘to review its criteria for the removal of telephone boxes to take into account such crime and anti-social behaviour issues evidenced by responsible authorities’.

Coun Humphreys told the meeting he “didn’t want to shut down all phone boxes”, but a lot were being used for criminal purposes such as drug dealing.

He said: ”Therefore I would like BT to take some sort of stance and if it’s making a profit from these sort of actions it should take moral responsibility and if it’s true, close it down.”

Conservative group leader Coun Tony Williams said while some people did still need to use phone boxes, many of the booths “are smelly places to be, horrible environments and the people running them should do something.”

He added: “Most of them are unkempt, dirty and are just boxes for adverts.”

Coun Lynn Williams said the issue affected wards across the town.

She said: “They need to spend money on the ones that are used and bring them up to standard, and the ones that are used for nefarious purposes need to go.”

The council agreed the chief executive should write to the Home Secretary to request its concerns be raised with telephone box providers.

BT says use of phone boxes has declined by more than 90 per cent in the last decade but any removal of payphones can only be done in line with current Ofcom guidelines.

It urges people to report any unsightly or damaged boxes but says removing them will not reduce anti-social behaviour.

However declining use means it continues to review and remove payphones which are no longer needed.

A spokesperson said: “Removing them will not stop people behaving anti-socially, the problems will just move elsewhere.”

Damage to any payphones can be reported by calling Freephone number 0800 661 610.”