Thursday, January 28, 2010

Obstruction

A strange green metal box, almost alien, has appeared on the pavement in Barkingside High Street, see photo below. It’s not a telephone or cable street cabinet, they are usually located discretely and parallel to the road; but this one is at right angles to the kerb. So, what could it be? We were discussing this in the council chamber New Fairlop Oak, and Knowsie reports another one just along the road from the Eva Hart while Freewheeler spotted one in Leyton High Road before Christmas. At first we thought it was a Chicane to slow down elderly pedestrians and stop wheelchairs, prams and mobility scooters from speeding and intimidating drivers of 4X4s who want to park on the pavement.
The consensus seems to be that the green metal box is a temporary structure prior to the installation of a pavement advertising board [like this] or a Bus shelter with an advertising board. There are clear visible pipes at pavement level to supply “services”.

And just when we thought we might be getting rid of these. The much loathed adverstising boards attached to our lamposts have been blank for months since the company went into liquidation. But Barkingside 21 has a constructive suggestion for these lampost peripherals. We put pictures of Christmas decorations in them, you know Stars, Santa, sleighs etc. and turn them on at Christmas time saving us taxpayers £10,000 per year. For the remainder of the year we put pictures of hanging baskets in them with a colourful display of horticultural extravagance supplemented by a nose level fan to deliver a delightful bouquet to the ocassional passing shopper, pickpocket, mugger or drug dealer. In our virtual world we could even project holographic images of trees, happy shoppers and open shops.

45 comments:

  1. It is gateway to moon of Jupiter. Simples.

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  2. These are definitely temporary structures, as can be seen from the shabby look if you study the picture closely. The one in Chadwell Heath is shabbier still, seeming to be held together by a roll or three of duct tape!

    There is certainly something strange about these things. If you look at any other street furniture (comm's cabinets, etc,) the gap between the base and the surrounding pavement is filled by cement or tarmac, as appropriate.

    These are different: the paving slabs have been carefully and accurately cut and a thick metal surround set partially into the ground such that it protrudes a little above the surface - looks to me like a very expensive way of doing things!

    The only 'life support' an illuminated advertising structure needs is electricity. This is always supplied by a buried cable (which may require a short length of black plastic duct if it is to be provided at a later date).

    There is a rectangular 'bulge' in one of the long sides of these bases and the Barkingside box has three capped pipes protruding from the soil in this area. They are small (about the size of 15mm/22mm pipe, by the looks of it) so can only be for supply, rather than waste. So what on earth are they for?

    Looking at the picture, it looks as if things will be very interesting if someone with long legs outstretched sits on that bench or, better still, a pram or buggy in front of them!

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  3. Could it be a skillfully disguised smart car spying not only on parked cars, but also on the junkies who congregate in the plaza area between the pool and the library?

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  4. Could it be the new, long awaited WC?
    much reduced in these straightened times

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  5. The green panel is our new (and long-awaited) public toilet ate Fullwell Cross.

    A little TOO public, even for me.

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  6. I've just looked at the picture of the 'mysterious pipes', which can be expanded to give a much more more detailed view than was available to me when I first saw these things.

    Viewed from directly above, they do indeed look like capped off pipework but, having taken a close look at the picture, could they, instead, be hexagonal nuts on bolts/threaded studding? Given the size, there could be quite an impressive structure going up at these sites - though I doubt the Council Taxpayers will be equally impressed!

    Perhaps our photographer can provide a more detailed picture of these projections?

    (If anybody thinks I'm going down on my hands and dodgy knees to take a closer look, they've got another think coming!)

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  7. Hmmm, good point Knowsie - they may not be pipes at all, but rods for anchorage purposes.

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  8. Having looked at it last night I suspect that it is going to be one of those open telephone points with an illuminated advertisement facing the traffic and replacing the existing closed (vandal target) telephone kiosk - a double hazzard, because it distracts drivers and can cause otherwise unnecessary damage if a vehicle should mount the kerb.

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  9. Anyone with the slightest knowledge of space travel would know that it's the initial stage of a launching pad to enable council members to return to their home planet.

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  10. Has anyone told BT we have just spent £70,000 on consultants, one of the recommendations is to clear larger amounts of street furniture, and are BT exempt from Planning Regulations?

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  11. Perhaps BT gets away with it because it is simply relocating an existing kiosk?
    All the same I cannot imagine that BT owns a strip of the pavement and can move willy-nelly.
    And we will have to wait until April to ask our councillors. (Is the pavement there in Area 3, Area4 or TFL land?)
    Now, if the redbridge i forum was fit for purpose, we could ask and, perhaps, get an answer!
    annesevant

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  12. Well, as we can see from the picture, there is a 'phone box close by which will, presumably, be removed. So why not site the new one there, rather than restrict the footway adjacent to the bench? (Or is the bench to be removed to create more space around the new monstrosity?

    The Chadwell Heath site is about 15 feet from an existing 'phone box but, in that case, it is against the side boundary wall of the 'Eva Hart' frontage - in other words, it is on land which was originally someone's front garden and does not obstruct the public footway at all.

    I have a suggestion for the green boxes. Can they not be re-sited? I was thinking of the Barkingside box across the entrance to the Planning Department and the really tatty one from Chadwell Heath across the entrance to the Council Chamber so that we can demonstrate just how much we support them in their ideas for a New Vision for Redbridge.

    (I've used a brilliant product from B & Q which could be very useful in this re-location exercise - it's Instant Concrete. You pour it on dry, level it, then water with a watering can. Wait a short while and it sets rock hard. I used it to rebuild my doorstep - wonderful stuff!)

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  13. You are missing the point Knowsie. These things are specifically located and designed so that the advertisement faces oncoming traffic. “I am convinced this is a major contribution to road safety.”

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  14. Begins to look like my post of 31 January had it right.

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  15. Yup! But you didn't provide an image of why it would distract [male] drivers!

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  16. This morning, I noticed that a bus shelter in Horns Road was sporting a MacDonald advertisement and the base of the display was very similar to the green box in Barkingside High Street.
    So,... another possibility!
    annesevant

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  17. Well, the box in Chadwell Heath has now been replaced by a structure like the one in Leyton High Road.

    Strangely there is a perfectly good, working telephone box only 15ft away, set back from the pavement and kerb (it backs onto a projecting side wall) which is clearly visible to all and offers shelter from the weather and the traffic noise!

    I wonder how much this thing will impair pedestrian safety. It is on the High Road section of the Wangey Road/Station Road triangle which could really do with better crossing facilities. Anybody rushing from one of the shops there to catch a bus from the stop on the other side of the road will now be completely blind to drivers until the very last minute.

    As this structure is just yards away from the Redbridge boundary in two directions, I wonder what our neighbours in Barking and Dagenham think of Redbridge's planning practices?

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  18. Well, Knowsie, do you remember the days when you had to queue to use a public telephone kiosk, with buttons A and B and old pennies?

    Nobody uses them anymore, [except as a surrogate for missing public toilets], they’ve got mobiles, but it may be that BT are still obliged to provide the service as part of their operating licence and the only way they can generate any revenue is through advertising?

    BTW did you happen to notice if the advert is in accordance with Redbridge Borough Policy on healthy eating?

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  19. So, I click on the link regarding healthy eating and, since my thinking never goes on a straight line (the attention span of a butterfly on its last legs) I see composting and composting bins.
    Well, in the old days, the council would provide you with composting bins at a 'good' price (after all they can bulk buy). Is this service still available? Me thinks not. Am I unduly gloomy?
    annesevant

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  20. Blimey, Weggis! What do expect? Miracles?

    All that's happened so far is that the naked structure has been erected so, if you want to see what the erection looks like in its natural state, now's your chance!

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  21. Hmmm, that comment should bring a few disappointed search engine hits this way!

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  22. Nick Hayes (Fullwell Ward)2:44 pm, February 10, 2010

    A large advertising board-type arrangement has now been grafted on to it to create one enormous ghastly-looking obstruction (I suspect it is one of those BT ad hoardings to which a payphone will be attached (but whatever it is, in my view it is too large and unwelcome clutter).

    Planning enforcement officers have been investigating and will hopefully be able to get it removed.

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  23. If ever there was a painful erection, this must be it!

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  24. BT is required as part of its Universal Service Obligation to provide adequate coverage of public payphones.Although there are moves to release Bt from this.Since May 2008 BT have made swingeing cuts in the number of Phone Boxes all round the country, They may now with the advent of large scale advertising put the things back!!
    Probably BT's argument will be that they are legally obliged to provide phone boxes, however, they are not legally obliged to provide advertising, which must be the councils argument.

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  25. I wish Nick Hayes luck in what he is attempting to do. I have been in correspondence with council officers in this matter since 29 January. So far they seem to be either unwilling to answer questions, or incapable of doing so.

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  26. Is Nick saying that this abortion has been erected without planning permission?

    If he is, perhaps he should let Wilson know so that he can rattle a few cages about the one in his ward ...

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  27. Nick Hayes (Fullwell Ward)3:40 pm, February 11, 2010

    Morris - the complete lack of any indentifying or distinguishing mark or logo either on the original green cap thing (as pictured on this site) or the ad hoarding itself (there was still no mark on it when i went to have a look at it yesterday) stating who owns it / has put it there etc has made it difficult for officers to deal with this - who could they serve enforcement proceedinsg on / tell to get rid of it or put in an application etc?

    I believe public payphones and associated structures have a privileged position in the planning system, broadly speaking the operator has to serve notice on the council and their payphone is deemed to have consent unless the council objects within a set period of time (something similar appleis to mobile phone masts and base stations etc). These rules are not made by local authorities but by central government. I am told that Redbridge's planning service has not received any application or notice re the new Barkingside one.

    Councillors on Regional Planning Committee North has objected to the ad hoarding design of payphone in the past.

    Knowsie - as cabinet member for planning an regen I would be happy to get the chadwell heath one looked into for you if you let me know where it is and when it started to go up - you can email me at nicholas.hayes@redbridge.gov.uk

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  28. Then perhaps, Nick, they could become pro-active and find out. Until they have done so then I suggest a block should be put on all those "flexi-Fridays". And I do not mean just planning officers, there are others who have some responsibility of control for monstrosities such as the one in question. Leadership is what is required here, but it took a three-year sabbatical in Redbridge from 2006 to 2009.

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  29. They probably think that "pro-active" is a low cholesterol margarine spread. But if nobody is owning up to it, why can't the council just invoke the fly-tipping rules and remove it?

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  30. Without a doubt telephone boxes will have a priveledged position in the planning process, I can imagine that they have to follow the same proceedure in installing a new phone box as withdrawing a phone box, in which case they have to give 42 days notice, Planning will have received this notice from BT, if not then the thing will not be legal.

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  31. A detailed drawing, map and other details of the Chadwell Heath box were sent to Nick Hayes this morning.

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  32. Nick Hayes (Fullwell ward)3:46 pm, February 12, 2010

    Officers will now be investigating teh position in Chadwell Heath and dealing with the Barkinside one, I will provide an update as soon as I have any more to tell you.

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  33. The truth is out!

    It seems that the Barkingside box has lagged behind the Chadwell Heath one in terms of appearance, first as a box, then conversion to a hoarding, so the the latest news is that the Chadwell Heath box now has an identity!

    Of course, it will come as a complete surprise to all to discover that has now gained a BT logo on one side!

    It also has an advert on the other side but, regrettably, it doesn't concur with Barkingside 21's earlier suggestion ...

    There is no other identification, as far I could see, but it does occur to me that, if BT is not the owner of this thing, it is intended to be illuminated.

    Nick Hayes may be able to trace the real owner by asking who has requested an electricity supply to these structures ...

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  34. If they are kept waiting for the electricity supply by EDF as long as others are then it will be weeks before the panel is illuminated!!

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  35. Nick - this outrageously hideous erection now displays at the top of its south facing side a BT logo. So there can be little, if any, doubt about its ownership, and in the absence of any planning application there is no reason why your officers should not issue enforcement notices on Monday, and Highways Officers take action on the same day for an offence of obstruction under Section 137 of the Highways Act. Perhaps the officers to whom I addressed questions could also provide replies by Friday. (Beware the porcine aviators!).

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  36. Nick Hayes (Fullwell Ward)6:52 pm, February 14, 2010

    Just to clarify, although there had been difficulties in identifying the culprits it was positively identified as BT's handiwork shortly after the ad board itself replaced the green metal cover thing. I discussed this (and steps to be taken) with officers on Friday and will do so again on Tuesday.

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  37. Nick,
    When you do, could you please establish whether there are rules or reasonable practice guidelines as to the percentage of footway width these things are allowed to take up and their proximity to pre-existing street clutter/furniture?

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  38. The time for talking has long-since passed. The monstrosity should go WITHIN THE WEEK! Time for council officers to stop ignoring what the public wants.

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  39. It has just occured to me that the full erection replacing the green box will now be obscuring the Road Traffic sign behind it.

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  40. Nick Hayes (Fullwell Ward)11:34 pm, February 17, 2010

    Officers have today confirmed to me that enforcement action is to be taken by Highways.

    I look forward to both the offending BT ad hoardings (in Barkingside and Chadwell) being removed.

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  41. I look forward not only to those two being removed, but to no more appearing.

    When will this "action" take place please (day, month, and YEAR!)?

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  42. Nick - this monstrous erection is still obstructing the public highway. Date for its removal please?

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