Ilford telephone boxes are used for ‘Sex and heroin’ and the planned water fountains could be scrapped

Three telephone boxes have been removed from the town centre. Picture: PA

Three telephone boxes have been removed from the town centre. Picture: PA - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Plans to put water sprinklers in Ilford town centre for children to run through are proving to be a bit of a drip.

As part of Ilford town centre rejuvenation plans, fountains were earmarked for sections of the High Road as an attraction for families.

However, the new design team, appointed to oversee the project, had said the installation is up in the air due to cost and disease management.

Speaking at an overview committee meeting on Thursday, September 12, a Redbridge Council officer said: "We have looked into it and you are looking at around £1millon to install it and several thousand a month to maintain, chlorinate the water and check for legionnaires disease.

"Other councils are shutting down their water features as it is too costly and Waltham Forest can't afford theirs.

"We are not saying no, but we can't say yes at this point."

On a positive note, the officer confirmed that it was installing spaces for art along the High Road.

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It would work with school children and also utilise the new art gallery Space to collaborate on projects.

So far all but three of its art studios, above the gallery in Redbridge Town Hall, have been rented out.

The design team also said pop-up electricity points would be installed in the pavement, for market stall holders.

The design would help reduce street clutter and minimise cables on the concourse.

One councillor asked if anything could be done about disused telephone boxes that were a breeding ground for antisocial behaviour and were mainly used for "sex and heroin" in Ilford rather than telephone calls.

The officer said telephone boxes are protected in law, but the council was constantly in talks with BT to maintain them and come up with working solution.

Three out of six boxes had already been taken down in the town centre.

Chairwoman Councillor Linda Huggett suggested that community groups could buy up the telephone boxes and turn them into community libraries.

She said residents in her wards had done a similar thing and bought them for a nominal fee and the idea was quite popular.

She did, however, warn that it would need to be done in an area where vandals would not destroy the project.

The council officer said it was usually only the red phone boxes that could be bought and unfortunately the ones being asked about did not fall into that category.