Campaign launched to clear Edgware Road’s ‘vice-ridden’ phone boxes
A campaign has been launched to clear Edgware Road of its “vice-ridden” phone boxes.
There are 41 lining the busy street from Marble Arch to Paddington Green Police Station – more than one every 25 metres.
Many of them no longer work and are covered in prostitute cards – dubbed by police as a “visual manifestation” of vice.
Now the police, churches, residents and Westminster Council have joined forces to crack down on the boxes.
Rev Stephen Mason, of St John’s Hyde Park Church, said: “Over the past 10 years, this area has transformed and people are getting a greater sense of pride in the area.
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“You have two communities either side of Edgware Road and one of the things we have become increasingly aware of is the road acting as a hurdle from the smartening up of the area and the shabby phone boxes which epitomise that.
“We would like to see the majority of them disappear because they are unattractive and holding back the area from becoming a destination we can be proud of.
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“Many of them don’t work and their cleanliness is extremely poor.”
Hyde Park Safer Neighbourhoods Team sergeant Ken Taylor said the sheer number of phone boxes, which belong to different companies, makes them “unmanageable” for the police.
He said human excrement has even been found in one of the boxes in nearby Sussex Gardens.
“It’s a visual manifestation of some of the unsavoury elements of vice in the area,” he said. “They are a constant reminder of vice for people walking along the road 24/7.”
Hyde Park Safer Neighbourhoods ward panel chairman Jack Gordon says in his Wood&Vale column this week that he has hardly seen anyone using the phone boxes over the past five years.
“They have become the repository for rubbish and the target for graffiti,” he said.
“They offer those who get caught out after a night’s drinking a place to relieve themselves, thus reeking of urine.
“Far, far worse they have become the notice board for prostitute cards and therefore the focus of organised, gang-sponsored crime.”
The council said it is working with community leaders around Edgware Road to look at removing unnecessary phone boxes.