Calls to remove Cricklewood phone boxes used for sex advertising and drug dealing
Residents and traders claim booths have become a magnet for illegal and anti-social behaviour
Angry residents are calling for the removal of phone boxes which they claim have become a magnet for illegal and anti-social behaviour.
The residents have told the Times that the 18 booths lined along Cricklewood Broadway are a hub for drug dealing and the graphic advertising of prostitutes – that’s when they are not being used as makeshift lavatories.
The problem has been causing a headache for around six months and fed-up locals are demanding the owners get rid of them amid fears that traders are suffering.
Sally Williams, a business consultant working on the Cricklewood Improvement Programme (CIP), which is attempting to rejuvenate the area, said numerous businesses had highlighted the issue.
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She told the Times: “Anyone can see how they are being used. If you stand and watch you see straight away that people are not making phone calls.
“There are some great businesses here and we are trying to welcome in new audiences but this is a major concern for people and detracts from the area.”
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The boxes are separately owned by British Telecom (BT) and communications company Arqiva.
Angela Payne, a member of the Mapesbury Residents Association, said she and others had been campaigning for months to have them removed.
She said: “BT have said they will remove some of them. We have tried contacting the other owners but they have said it’s a matter for the police.
“In this day and age to have so many is ridiculous. The companies should either maintain them and keep them clean or get rid of them.
“It’s very concerning for residents to see what they are being used for.”
A spokesman for BT said they were in the process of removing four boxes.
A spokesman for Arqiva said they “understood” residents’ frustrations but that they were unable to prevent unlicensed and unauthorised advertising.
He said: “Our cleaning and maintenance crews who routinely visit the telephones are instructed to remove any offending unauthorised material.”
However, he added that controlling the advertising of escort services was a matter for the local police.
A Brent Police spokesman said the issue was a priority and they were working with community groups to tackle it. He said: “We deal with urinating in the street and sex advertising when we come across it.
“We ask that the residents and businesses call the 101 number to report any incidents.”