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Taken away – Eatery petitions for removal of mobile phone exchange boxes which ‘hide’ shop from passersby

A Guyanese restaurant owner has launched a petition to remove five mobile phone exchange boxes which have left her restaurant hidden from view, writes Emma Snaith…

Umana Yana owner Deborah Monfries claims that sales are down by 85 per cent since the first box was installed in 2014 as passing customers cannot spot the Croxted Road restaurant from the street.

“These boxes are destroying my business. I have many loyal customers but I rely on people passing by too and the boxes completely hide my shop. You can’t tell if we’re open or closed,” Deborah said.

Over 700 people have signed an online petition posted in April calling on Southwark Council to remove the boxes.

In response to Deborah’s complaints about the boxes, the restaurant was visited by council enforcement officers in November last year.

After investigating the matter the council informed Deborah in April that they would not do anything to remove the boxes.

“The support I’m receiving from the local community has been amazing and I’m grateful to everyone that is backing our campaign to get these boxes moved,” Deborah said.

Cllr Ian Wingfield, Cabinet Member for Environment and the Public Realm, said: “Anyone can see that this is not the right location for these boxes, and we will be writing to Virgin to ask them to consider alternative sites, so that Umana Yana can continue trading without being hidden from view.”

“Unfortunately councils have little say in the location of these boxes since the government changed the rules so they no longer require planning permission. Whilst we recognise the need for good broadband across our whole borough, it should not be achieved at the cost of a local business.”


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