Commercial Road set to have 21 phone boxes - will this mean more free advertising on Portsmouth's high street?

Is 21 too many phone boxes for Commercial Road?
Is 21 too many phone boxes for Commercial Road?
James Laurie. Picture: Hampshire Constabulary

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AT a time when nearly everyone walking down the street has a mobile phone in their pocket, yet more phone boxes are set to spring up along Commercial Road.

With Portsmouth's main high street already home to 17 phone boxes, plans have now been revealed to add a further four to the precinct.

The boxes themselves are already currently home to a plethora of advertising and with the possibility for 21 of them to line the street, a top city councillor is saying enough is enough and another has branded them 'litter.'

Councillor Luke Stubbs, Portsmouth City Council's deputy leader says that the boxes have become 'obsolete' in recent years and that plans for four more is an 'abuse of the planning system.'

He said: 'It is perfectly clear that the explosion in numbers that has already occurred has nothing to do with meeting a need for phones and everything to do with creating advertising boards for free.'

Phone boxes are often utilised by those wanting to promote an event, club night or business offer with posters.

The council cannot restrict their installation as they can be brought in under the Telecommunications Act without planning consent or any form of payment required.

Cllr Stubbs added: 'Phone boxes are nearly obsolete and are almost never used. It is an abuse of the planning system to use this as a means of littering Commercial Road with advertising.'

Euro-Payphone Ltd are behind the plans, with boxes proposed for outside Optical Express, Lloyds, HSBC and Marks & Spencer.

A further two are also planned for outside Portsmouth & Southsea railway station and outside Aggie Weston House in Edinburgh Road.

Councillor Hugh Mason, deputy leader of Portsmouth Liberal Democrats said: 'This will undoubtedly lead to more advertising along Commercial Road. A lot of the boxes are full off posters and advertising and it gives a poor impression of the street.

'With payphones, it is essential to have them in areas such as the seafront where they could be used in an emergency but everyone that walks around Commercial Road is likely to have a phone in their pocket.

'This proliferation of payphones is litter.'

The new sites are covered by a prior notification to the council to state that the boxes will be installed. It is not a request for the company to have permission to implement them.