BA calls for derelict street phone boxes to be removed.

Backdated from previous BA website

BA and Bloomsbury Improvement Group have asked Camden Council why they have to use valuable resources to clean these boxes when the company that owns them should be brought to account. We have also written to OfCom to ask them why they are unable to resolve this disgraceful state of affairs.

If the owners are unwilling to remove them then surely it would be cheaper in the long term for Camden to remove them rather than waste rare-payers money in cleaning them.

We wrote;

To Ofcom 25/2/04

Re:  Interphone
Derelict telephone boxes in Camden


Dear Sirs

Interphone and their blatant disregard for our streetscapes.

Interphone operate hundreds of derelict street phone boxes, they neither maintain them nor clean them, most do not work and have been slowly and systematically vandalised.  They are a magnet for drug addicts and dealers throughout South Camden (Bloomsbury) and we now have evidence that Camden Council are actually using Council taxpayers resources to clean these telephone boxes.  We have photographic evidence of this.  They also provide a free space for prostitute advertising.

We gather that Interphone are blatantly ignoring requests by the authorities to clean up their act.  Can you explain why?

We would also like to know if your organisation has any powers to act in this matter apart from writing letters to the company in question.

We would be grateful for your comments before we go to the newspapers on this matter.

Regards
Bloomsbury Association

OFCOM REPLIED;

Thank you for your recent query to the Internet site of Ofcom. You expressed your concern about the state of public phone boxes operated by Interphone.

I would explain to you that Interphone Public Networks Limited (“Interphone”) operates under the general conditions of entitlement as a provider of public call boxes (PCBs) and public call box services.

Interphone must comply therefore with its obligations under the general conditions of entitlement, for instance:

a)      Take all reasonably practicable steps to maintain, to the greatest extent possible, the proper and effective functioning of its PCB network at all times;

b)      Ensure that any end-user can access emergency organisations by using the emergency call numbers “112” and “999” at no charge and without having to use coins or cards;

c)      Ensure that any end-user can access operator assistance services; and

d)      Ensure that any end-user can access a directory enquiries facility.

Complaints

Ofcom has already received several complaints about the condition of Interphone’s PCBs, including photographic evidence. Complainants (predominantly Local Authorities) cite, among others, the following concerns regarding Interphone’s PCBs:


a)      Public call box services are not operational;

b)      Vandalism;

c)      Fly posting;

d)      Graffiti;

e)      Other anti-social behaviour; and

f)        Criminal activities.


Whilst Ofcom takes seriously complaints regarding vandalism, fly posting and so on, a primary concern for Ofcom only relates to the proper and effective functioning of Interphone’s PCBs and the provision of public call box services. There are no specific obligations on Interphone in the general conditions of entitlement for the company to repair and maintain its PCBs.

Meetings

Ofcom has met with Interphone to discuss with them the proper and effective functioning of its PCBs and the provision of public call box services. Ofcom has also discussed with Interphone the condition of its PCBs. Ofcom is working with Interphone to agree a way forward and a satisfactory conclusion to what are serious issues.

In the meantime, Ofcom is considering the range of regulatory options for potential action against Interphone. Such options include, for instance, enforcing the general conditions of entitlement under the Communications Act 2003.

Ofcom is aware that certain Local Authorities have met with Interphone to discuss the condition of Interphone’s PCBs in their particular areas. Individual Local Authorities are considering their options, including legal action against Interphone to require the repair, maintenance or removal of its PCBs.  However, it is for Camden Council alone to decide whether to use taxpayers resources to clean the phoneboxes.

Ofcom has met with a number of Local Authorities to discuss a joined up approach to take forward these particular issues. Ofcom has written recently to Interphone regarding this matter and is keeping those Local Authorities informed of progress.

Yours sincerely
Ofcom Contact Centre

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