A new application for old phones in Brighton and Hove

Posted On 07 Aug 2020 at 3:10 pm

While pottering around the beautiful village of Rottingdean recently, I spotted a phone box that had been converted into a little library.

The deal is that you can take a book and then give one back to replace it so that the library remains stocked up.

I thought this was a wonderful example of reuse both for the phone box and the books.

I am glad that our lovely old red phone boxes can be repurposed rather than be removed and stored in an old yard.

I posted a picture of the phone box library on my Facebook page and the Bedford Square Garden Project got in touch.

There are two phone boxes in the square. One is permanently locked while BT says the other is in use as an essential service.

I think it is in use although not for the kind of services BT imagine and behaviours that understandably residents are a bit fed up with.

Residents from the project are interested in turning them into something attractive and useful for the local community so they invited me down for a chat on Wednesday.

What we have found out so far is that BT run an “adopt a kiosk” scheme where the older boxes can be adopted for community use.

The Community Heartbeat Trust has installed defibrillators in disused phone boxes across the country.

In Cheltenham, 10 red phone boxes have been transformed into miniature art galleries, showcasing the work of local artists.

Adoption costs just £1 per box, with the adopter essentially taking ownership of and liability for the box.

The boxes can only be adopted by a charity or by a council. Clearly the council will not want to increase its liabilities right now as it is already facing a huge funding gap, so officers are now working on how any financial burden can be minimised.

The phone box library in Rottingdean

Meanwhile, I have written to Rottingdean Parish Council to get the benefit of their experience.

I am really pleased at the “can do” approach that council officers have taken to this and if Bedford Square is successful, they could well set the template for future adopters around the city.

Councillor Nancy Platts is the leader of the Labour opposition on Brighton and Hove City Council.

  1. Rolivan Reply

    How long have you lived the City for now Cllr Platts?
    You obviously never walked along New Rd where the old phone boxes were turned into a coffee outlet.

  2. Christopher Hawtree Reply

    My fear is that all this shows cllr Platts continues to overlook the need for well-stocked, fully-staffed public libraries. She appears to favour random telephone boxes and cast-off paperbacks about murder. Which we thought had vanished from the scene with the departure of Alderman Morgan.

    • Bill Reply

      No need for them during Coronavirus, I wouldn’t dream of going and handling books which could potentially be covered in viruses!

  3. bradly23 Reply

    top of the pile when i looked in was “The Marquis De Sade – The 120 Days of Sodom ” = the phone box is a metaphor for something, not least when the door hinge is still so heavy =

  4. Garrison F Reply

    6 phone boxes within 100 metres around Old Steine Gardens. All derelict, vandalised, broken and used as toilets or places to deal drugs. I spoke to BT about there being no need for so many boxes and I was told they’d send someone to clean them with a bucket of water and some soap……. idiots

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