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Tories and Lib Dems squabble over Kingston’s iconic tumbling telephone boxes

By Fran Warburton Jan 30, 2015
Credit: Rex features

Kingston council leader has accused the Liberal Democrats of sabotaging a public consultation into the redevelopment of the town centre by launching a “petty” petition.

The Lib Dems are campaigning to “save” Kingston’s iconic tumbling telephone boxes on Old London Road after it was suggested in the Eden Quarter redevelopment brief that they be “removed or relocated”.

However Conservative council leader, Kevin Davis, said: “There is no proposal to move the telephone boxes,” adding that the brief was supposed to allow the community an opportunity to discuss possible options.

He said: “The Lib Dems start petitions on everything just to harvest resident email addresses for Ed Davey and his general election campaign.

“In the meantime it means the community misses the chance to have a grown up debate about important issues about their town.”

The public were presented with the Eden Quarter development brief last November and December, which sets out visions to expand Kingston town centre.

Davis said that because of the petition feedback from the public consultation has been focused on the telephone boxes rather than the broader picture of the town’s redevelopment.

The 100 page report, prepared by commercial property advisors, GVA, and Morrison Urban Practitioners last October, aims to improve pedestrian access to Old London Road. It says David Mach’s Out of Order installation block views of the street.

Founder of the petition and Lib Dem Councillor, Chrisse Hitchcock said: “The removal of the boxes has been proposed, it’s all there written in the brief. We just wanted to stamp it out before it got momentum.

“I simply could not believe it when I saw that the Tories want to get rid of the tumbling phone boxes. They have no respect for the heritage of our town.”

According to Davis, however, the Lib Dem’s petition “reinforces the public’s view that politicians are a bunch of vandals looking out for nothing but their own self interest.”

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