Southwark council piloted 20 solar powered ‘smart’ benches’ in Southwark in 2017 and plans to install more in the coming years, but residents claim they are nothing but bad news.
Consisting of a wooden bench with a strip like steel structure that wraps around it, 4 built in charging cables and free WiFi so that users can charge their phones while they sit, all while using renewable energy. the solar panel collects and stores energy throughout the day to provide electricity.
Sarah a local resident stated ‘I don’t feel safe walking past the benches at night there is always a group of homeless men there drinking’. As a local resident passing the benches is not a choice for Sarah so encounters like the one she described have the potential to happen daily.
Islington council is another borough that installed the smart benches, but were forced to get rid of four out of the five as a result of the benches being a target for anti-social behavior and fears of phone snatching.
After being contacted Southwark council failed to get back to us to make a statement about the smart benches. Southwark council has further plans to install more smart benches in the coming years, hoping that they will bring more people together but will they achieve the opposite?