Dozens of phone boxes are set to be replaced with controversial communications hubs across Brighton and Hove.
BT’s Inlink hubs have been dubbed advertising by stealth and its free calls service has been linked to inner city drug deals.
Privacy campaigners have also raised concerns the telecomms giant is building a “military-grade street-level sensor network” as the hubs record data from passing phones.
Plans to remove 26 payphones across the city and replace them with 13 hubs have now been approved, with the removal of the redundant phone boxes particularly welcomed.
As part of its application, BT provided information about its new antisocial behaviour management plan.
Inlink general manager Matt Bird said: “Wherever an InLink is installed we work collaboratively with local stakeholders, including councils and the police to ensure they make a positive contribution to the area. Unfortunately, some users in limited locations have abused this type of service, and we’re committed to addressing that.”
A press release about its new technology to block antisocial calls based on an algorithm was also submitted as part of the application.
However, a rivals’ plans for a network of similar hubs in new locations have been turned down on the basis they are not solely for communications use, and so fall foul of planning regulations.
Infocus Public Networks appealed Brighton and Hove City Council’s decision, but a planning inspector dismissed the appeal last month.
The inspector cited the case of Westminster Council which took legal action in a bid to prevent BT installing similar hubs, describing them as: “ big advertising hoardings with a cursory phone attached.”
The phone boxes set for replacement with hubs are at:
- Two outside Aldi, London Road, Brighton
- Two outside University of Brighton, Grand Parade, Brighton
- Two outside Starbucks in Western Road, Hove
- Two outside NatWest in London Road, Brighton
- One outside Queensbury House, Queens Road, Brighton
- One outside Pacific House in Dyke Road, Brighton
- One outside St George’s Place, Brighton
- Two at the junction of North Road and Gloucester Place, Brighton
- Two near The World’s End pub in London Road, Brighton
- Three outside New Look in Western Road, Brighton
- Two outside Foodilic in North Street, Brighton
- Two outside Primark in Western Road, Brighton
- Two outside Sprinkles Gelato in West Street, Brighton
An application to replace another two boxes outside Brighton Station has been withdrawn.