At Tuesday’s meeting of the full Town Council (24 April) Councillors voted to take over Marlborough’s four red telephone boxes and turn them into attractive and ornamental displays, but leave one still operational as a phone box. However, there was confusion after the vote as to which box would remain as a working phone box.
The briefing report prepared for the meeting addressed the issue of the two High Street telephone boxes – those adjacent to Jubilee Centre and Library – using the established national ‘Adopt a Kiosk’ programme which has led to more than 5,000 otherwise redundant phone boxes being restored to an (albeit different) life. Marlborough has already embraced this program as the (still) red box in Manton High Street is now book exchange.
Councillors went further and decided to include Marlborough’s other two boxes as well – on The Green (still operational) and on the junction of Chopping Knife Lane and London Road (non-operational).
Councillor Harry Forbes proposed that the Town Council acquire all four boxes, inspired by the efforts of the Marlborough in Bloom team where the state of the High Street’s two red boxes were in extreme contrast to the standard of the immediately adjacent floral displays.
Apparently one of last year’s judges even commented on the state of the Jubilee Centre box, asking why it hadn’t been renovated.
Cllr Forbes’ proposal, which was accepted by a majority vote (7/5), was that the Council approach BT to acquire the four boxes, whilst asking that one – and he specifically stated in his proposal that this be the box adjacent to the Library – remain operational whilst still be refurbished by the Town Council. If BT were not able to allow the sale of the operational box to the Council, then only three be purchased and the fourth – operational box – be the one adjacent to the Library.
However, usage reports for each box showed that the Jubilee Centre box was nearly four times as popular as the Library box, and some confusion arose amongst Councillors as they recognised that what had been proposed and accepted wasn’t necessarily what they had understood as they felt the popular Jubilee box should be the one to remain operational.
“I think we’ve got ourselves into a mix-up here” commented Cllr Fogg after the vote had been taken and then discussed in relation to the usage of the two boxes.
What had also escaped Councillors’ attention was the fact that the Town Council already owned the Telephone Box adjacent to Chopping Knife Lane on the London Road. The prepared report specifically addressed the fate of the two High Street telephone boxes only, rather than the other two. This Council-owned box is the only one from which all equipment has been removed, but – as marlborough.news discovered the light is still working, even during daylight hours. It is also in a state of total disrepair.
Whilst the future now looks bright for all four of Marlborough’s decrepit telephone boxes, which, what and how is still somewhat uncertain. One member of the public attending the meeting suggested to Marlborough.news that the Julilee Centre box would be perfect to be morphed into an art installation, or even mini gallery, and that the town’s prolific and accomplished artistic community could be engaged to suggest how this could happen, whilst still retaining it’s valuable role as an active telephone box.
This will run and run….