back to article London's Westminster Council wins appeal against phonebooth-cum-massive-digital-advert

Who knew payphones could be so controversial? The central London council of Westminster has won a court battle against New World Payphones, preventing it from deploying two billboard-cum-payphones in the heart of London's Marylebone Road. In a decision published yesterday, judges in the Court of Appeal backed the council's …

  1. Bloodbeastterror

    Lexus 430

    I remember quite a few years ago that the Lexus 430 sports car with Mark Levinson sound system was advertised as "A great sound system with a car attached" (or words to that effect).

    This is just a ruse to clog the streets with more unwanted furniture, distraction and adverts. Nothing whatsoever to do with erecting a useful-to-the-public amenity. A moving billboard with a phone attached.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Lexus 430

      I would have thought, given the primary purpose of advertising is to attract your attention, that all such advertising should be banned if it can be seen by a road user.

      A further argument against them is the environmental cost, in putting the thing in place and then the power to run it.......

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Lexus 430

        I would have thought, given the primary purpose of advertising is to attract your attention, that all such advertising should be banned if it can be seen by a road user.

        But... but if you ban it, how are we going to get the wonderful future that looks like Blade Runner on a bad day? You speak as if you don't want 300 foot high screens showing demure oriental women smiling down on you from every angle!

        And while I'm at it, I'm still waiting for my frikkin' flying car...

        {"type":"humour detection failure","only joking":"true"}

        1. cream wobbly

          Re: Lexus 430

          There weren't that many cars in Blade Runner...

          1. Lintfordpickle

            Re: Lexus 430

            I only want one

    2. Blackjack

      Re: Lexus 430

      Yeah, I kinda miss old payphones but "modern" payphones are not only eyesores but also completely pointless in a modern society.

  2. Aladdin Sane Silver badge
    Headmaster

    Are the phone booths less lovely or are we having fewer of them? Enquiring minds want to know.

    1. katrinab Silver badge
    2. Paul Herber Silver badge

      How about a Lovely Phonebooth competition?

    3. macjules Silver badge

      There is hope yet: install them in places like Slough or Bracknell or even Reading. They would be considered as “landscape improvement” there.

  3. Chris 211

    Bloody Adverts!

    No more bloody Adverts please, we are bombarded with them and adverts are a distraction to drivers. Well done to who ever opposed the advert machines. People have mobile phones they don't need a phone booth with an iPad!

    Ranty

    1. Rich 2 Silver badge

      Re: Bloody Adverts!

      I’m sure this comes as no news to those living there but I had need to travel along the M6 round the top of Birmingham at the weekend and couldn’t believe the HUGE TV billboards right at the side of the road. Amazed that these are allowed on road safety grounds alone. Not to mention the bloody eyesore that they are and the needless megawatts of electricity they chew up. Not very green are they?

      1. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Re: Bloody Adverts!

        They'd be a lot more green if some concerned soul were to visit them one night with a long-handled roller and a 20-litre tin of Dulux Grass Green.

        1. phuzz Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: Bloody Adverts!

          Use the Banksy method: get hold of an old fire extinguisher, replace the fire retardant with paint and then repressurise. Voila, a long range paint-squirter.

      2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Bloody Adverts!

        I thought billboards near motorways were banned?

        Isn't that why farmers park old artic trailers which coincidentally have golf sale painted on the side instead

        1. Rich 11 Silver badge

          Re: Bloody Adverts!

          Through most of 2016 farmers' signs seemed to primarily consist of phrases like 'Brexit Now!' and 'Vote UKIP'. For some unforeseeable reason 99% of these vanished during the course of 2017.

      3. Hollerithevo Silver badge

        Re: Bloody Adverts!

        I nearly drove off the London stretch of the M40 when the first one distracted me from the road. Then they are on both sides, it is indeed a Bladerunner moment. Talk about "...time to die."

        1. martinusher Silver badge

          Re: Bloody Adverts!

          I don't like TV type advertising displays because their animation is too distracting when you're driving. Its maybe not to much of an issue in central London because the traffic's not moving that fast but it will still distract enough to allow drivers to bag the occasional unwary pedestrian.

          > it is indeed a Bladerunner moment.

          Blade Runner was set in Los Angeles in November 2019 but the ubiquitous rain suggests that somewhere like London might be more appropriate. What's a bit scary is that our technology is for the the most part more advanced than Blade Runner's -- we may not have flying cars or replicants yet but other aspects of life we're well in advance, especially surveillance and police methods. I'm not quite ready to give up myself just yet, though -- its starting to get really interesting.

          (BTW -- I'd really like one of those light saber type umbrellas.)

        2. hoola Bronze badge

          Re: Bloody Adverts!

          They are also so bright so that they can be seen in the daytime that they destroy your vision at night. The same applies to all the overhead information signs. Surely with all the technology available it is possible to make a sign that has adaptive brightness.

    2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: Bloody Adverts!

      I'd put all Ad company execs in a locked room for 1 year ansd subject them to 24/7 adverts.

      As Cpll Jones would say 'They Don't like it Up Em!'

      Needless to say, I have ALL adverts.

      Yours, Grumpy.

      1. quxinot Silver badge

        Re: Bloody Adverts!

        Ditto.

        And no, I'm not feeding them, either. Stupid bastards ruin all they touch.

    3. Mike 137 Bronze badge

      Re: Bloody Adverts!

      Ubiquitous animated adverts are actually hazardous in other ways - not just as overt distraction. Constant exposure to attention-attracting stimuli that lack meaningful content (i.e. noise) causes the brain to reduce levels of perception, presumably in an effort to avoid sensory swamping. Unfortunately, the perceptual deficit that results is more general than merely to shut out the noise - it makes us generally unobservant. This can result in a lot of problems including accidents, poor social interaction and impoverished mentation.

      It's worth noting that on the London Underground the animated advert screens are so placed, both on the platforms and the escalators, that it's impossible to avoid them impinging on peripheral vision unless you shut at least one eye, sometimes both.

      The big joke is that by virtue of the sheer level of the noise, nobody's really looking at the adverts any more. However the advert brokers continue to emphasise that without them a business goes bust. What a hamster wheel we've landed in!

  4. Mystereed

    How about...

    ...allowing them if the adverts can only be seen by people actually inside an enclosed phone booth? That would stop everyone else getting distracted by them?

    The companies probably wouldn't want to deploy them with that condition though, which would prove they are just trying to get around the regs.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How about...

      Same trick here.

      A resort wanted to put a 200ft tall view tower on top of a local mountain

      No fsckng way said the planning people.

      What about a wonderfully green windmill? Which coincidentally has an expensive entry fee viewing gallery on top of it? Of course, go ahead, we can't object to anything green said the government.

      Somehow the wind part never got connected to the grid because of "technical issues"

    2. Dr Scrum Master

      Re: How about...

      There used to be plenty of adverts inside phone kiosks from enterprising your ladies...

  5. Teiwaz Silver badge

    Is it any less 'lovely'

    Than a classic red booth design, caked in tasteless posted bills and littered with callgirl cards, cards advertsing 'pram or 'chest of drawers' and smelling of urine and the frustration of lack of change.

    We should be well used, those were replaced with tacky flimsy chrome constructs that were more often broken than not.

    Nearly all of either have disappeared, forcing more of the population to join the Voodoo cult of the android zombies shuffling along the streets.

    It's not a good thing when a supposedly luxury electrical device with a large price tag becomes such a necessity, but er've been sleepwalking into this situation for years, I can only assume people haven't noticed as they are too busy shuffling along, staring at their phones.

    1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Re: Is it any less 'lovely'

      Than a classic red booth design, caked in tasteless posted bills and littered with callgirl cards, cards advertsing 'pram or 'chest of drawers' and smelling of urine and the frustration of lack of change.

      I blame de-regulation. Now there's competition, but also a need to generate revenue, which has gotten harder thanks to mobile phones. Hence the advertising opportunities. Luckily that hasn't meant replacing tart cards with vids, but give it time..

    2. Martin Gregorie Silver badge

      Re: Is it any less 'lovely'

      It's not a good thing when a supposedly luxury electrical device with a large price tag becomes such a necessity

      Smartphones are not a necessity. Only those brain-washed by Farcebook, Apple and friends are totally committed to that bit of consumerism. Simple phones such as the Samsung B2100 work well, are much harder to damage than any smartphone and, as a bonus, are a lot smaller and cheaper too. And have better battery life.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Is it any less 'lovely'

        Don't rage at the world just because you can't see the use cases for a powerful, ultra portable computer in the modern world.

        I spent last weekend in Spain and used mine to:

        - make calls

        - send SMS and other messages

        - access the internet to find out more about the history of the town I was in

        - navigate city streets on foot and motorways in the car

        - book bus tickets and access timetables

        - take numerous photos that were then almost immediately securely backed up

        - book hotels

        - check in and board my flight

        - move money from regualr bank account to Monzo instead of buying Euros

        - book airport car parking

        - set my home heating to welcome me home when the flight was late

        That's without using any social media. I know fine that my data is used for less than farious purposes and that I could have done all that by other means, but the sheer convenience of a smartphone makes an overwhelming case for all but the most greybearded of luddites.

        1. JohnFen Silver badge

          Re: Is it any less 'lovely'

          I don't think he said that smartphones weren't useful. He said that they weren't a necessity, which is (at least here in my part of the US) certainly true.

        2. Teiwaz Silver badge

          Re: Is it any less 'lovely'

          Don't rage at the world just because you can't see the use cases for a powerful, ultra portable computer in the modern world.

          Just don't come crying when it's all but impossible to do most the necessary things on your list Without a mobile phone, or not with your particular make because there's not an 'App' for your phone, or you're left stranded with a discharged battery.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Is it any less 'lovely'

            Yeah, and don't you complain when it's impossible to do all the other things that modern technology has helped us with. Did you actually read that back and see the stupidity of your argument? I take it you sit in a cave just in case the nice things suddenly become uninvented?

            As someone who's first smartphone was a Sony Ericsson P800 and who's migrated through Blackberry and Android over the years, I've become pretty adept at managing battery life - it's really not that hard.

          2. Chris 125

            Re: Is it any less 'lovely'

            Unfortunate lack of understanding how smartphones work - you don't make an app (no apostrophes necessary, it's really called that) for a make of phone and even if one doesn't exist for the OS - which is unlikely since there's only really two of them - you use the website.

            I still don't get why anyone would be angry that someone uses a smartphone. It's not compulsory, it's just easier. Here for example we seem to be arguing against using a smartphone for banking, travel and communications and instead encouraging the use of a simple phone or even a phone box, and calling through to the customer service departments of various companies or texting friends by hammering away at a numeric keypad.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Is it any less 'lovely'

              Exactly Chris125; he seems to be railing against the modern world doing things he doesn't approve of, unaware that there's even greyer beards in the generations before him who'd look at his use of a keyboard rather than punched tape or a slide rule as unnecessary fripperies. Some have no idea of their place in history.

              1. whitepines Silver badge

                Re: Is it any less 'lovely'

                My only issue is that this newfangled technology is specifically designed to spy, pry, invade our every previously private thought, quietly control our overall desires, and in most ways make us subservient to the government/corporate entities controlling the phones in the first place (which is especially entertaining when the corporate entities try various forms of election manipulation thinking they won't get discovered or that they actually have enough power to fully control democracies).

                That key difference I think sets a decision to avoid or limit reliance on smartphones and IoT quite apart from traditional ludditism. Give me a pocket computer I fully control and I'll be happy -- for instance, I use IoT on my own terms, custom built and/or open source, but never commercial IoT tat.

          3. AmenFromMars

            Re: Is it any less 'lovely'

            "or you're left stranded with a discharged battery" - it's OK, I understand there are now phone boxes with charging facilities. Oh, hang on...

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    easy solution

    "The local authority said that if it had accepted every application, there would be a phone booth every 15 metres down London's Edgware Road."

    There's your solution. Let em (over) build and bankrupt each other. Just make sure they post a bond to ensure there's funding for removing the eyesores later on.

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: Edgware Road

      Ah. Then all the adverts would need to be in Arabic. It seems that almost every other shop has signs in Arabic.

      1. Hollerithevo Silver badge

        Re: Edgware Road

        That's because this stretch is known as 'Little Beirut'. Go to other bits of London and signs are in Chinese or Turkish etc. Cosmopolitan city. There's a big Arabic-reading community all around Edgware Road, so it makes sense, just as Benidorn has all those 'Full English Breakfast' signs all over the place in English. Fab restaurants along Edgware Road, open to the wee hours.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: easy solution

      "Let em (over) build and bankrupt each other. "

      I'm tempted to agree with you but as the advertising industry is so successful at selling advertising the logical conclusion might never happen.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Advertisers and marketers are parasitic scum.

    ^ that's all.

    1. Fatman Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Advertisers and marketers are parasitic scum.

      Wiser words have never been spoken!!!

      1. Teiwaz Silver badge

        Re: Advertisers and marketers are parasitic scum.

        Wiser words have never been spoken!!!

        Obvious, certainly.

        Wisdom should be a little more profound.

  8. MiguelC Silver badge

    Re: "24-inch display that would provide directions and local information, and a 165cm by 92.8cm LCD display that would serve advertisements"

    Although inches are commonly used to indicate the diagonal, why, oh why, did you use different units and different methods for describing the two displays?

    (note: the larger one is a 75-inch display)

    1. Carpet Deal 'em Bronze badge

      It sounds less threatening if you have to do the math to properly size it.

    2. headrush

      Maybe because one is used as a standard display (longer horizontal) and the other is a display installation , presumably portrait orientation. The diagonal measurement is irrelevant on the latter as it's presumably designed to fit the kiosk dimensions.

  9. cream wobbly

    Units, you nits

    "a 24-inch display that would provide directions and local information, and a 165cm by 92.8cm LCD display "

    Can I have that in furlongs, please?

    1. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: Units, you nits

      Furlongs are boring. How about potrzebies?

      "a 269 potrzebie display that would provide directions and local information, and a 729 by 410 potrzebie LCD display "

      (For those who aren't up on their bizarre units, a "potrzebie" is a unit of distance invented by Knuth. 1 potrzebie is equal to the thickness of issue 26 of Mad Magazine, or 2.263348517438173216473 mm. I've rounded the measurements in the above conversions.)

    2. Clunking Fist Bronze badge

      Re: Units, you nits

      "a 24-inch display that would provide directions and local information, and a 165cm by 92.8cm LCD display "

      That's about the height of 3 London double-decker buses, the length of 3 Olympic swimming pools and covers an area equal to 3 football pitches. I think?

  10. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Stupid idiots

    IIRC it would take about 3s for the screens to be completely covered by massage parlour and art model cards.

    And think of those poor incontinents with all the electricity about.

  11. David Roberts
    WTF?

    Pay Phone?

    Did nobody else notice that the phone part was so insignificant to the revenue stream that phone calls are free?

    If the supposed main purpose of this is a payphone then why don't you have to pay for the phone calls?

    Pay. Phone. Perhaps the clue is in the name?

    Can it even be classed as a payphone if you don't have to pay?

    Then again I almost never make or receive phone calls on my "mobile phone".

    1. Chris 125

      Re: Pay Phone?

      The phone part will be vandalised within a day of it being installed, and never repaired. It's simply a way of getting it installed in the first place.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Where?

    Story says Marylebone Road. Photo says Edgware Road.

    Photo is actually Seymour Place.

    1. BoldMan

      Re: Where?

      Excellent pedantry!

  13. Amentheist
    Joke

    FTFY

    "surprise resurgence thanks to the ability to attach large digital advertising screens to them surging demand for space to cook up smack"

  14. low_resolution_foxxes

    Advertising billboards largely banned.

    Phone booths... Not banned.

    Arsehole ad execs see loophole.

    Surprisingly no one makes calls?

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