Phone mast news

A key decision was taken at a full Sefton council meeting in Southport in 2009.

After a very long campaign, Lib-Dems succeeded in modifying the council's blanket ban on allowing mobile phone masts on any land which it owns. This inflexible ban has led to some illogical situations.

For example, a mast could have been put in an isolated position in Duke Street cemetery. But because the land is council owned that was not possible. Campaigning local residents who finished up with a mast right outside their homes could not understand why commonsense had not been used.

In Crossens and Churchtown we have fought to prevent phone masts being put up close to peoples homes. Nobody is against the sensible use of mobile phones but, because of health concerns, care must be taken about the masts, especially if the beam of maximum intensity permanently passes through your home and you are sensitive to this.

Now, in rare and exceptional circumstances, the council will consider allowing masts on its land. But this is NOT a free-for-all, which critics have mischievously tried to suggest. There will not be a rash of them in school playing fields or on clinics and council buildings. Great care will be taken and two committees - the Cabinet and also Planning will have to agree.

It has taken years to get this sensible flexible policy agreed because time and time again the Conservatives and Labour have opposed the idea - for reasons that we have to say have been either ill-informed or simply plainly illogical.

The Tories however changed their minds this time and supported our proposal. Labour argued against it - again for reasons that we did not understand. They basically wanted to set up another special working group to investigate the idea. There have been at least three similar working groups previously !!

The result was that the votes of Lib-Dem and Conservative councillors won the day.

Sadly, phone companies and other utilities have a legal right to erect things on pavements. The only power that councils have is to request planning permission. Frequently, Sefton refuses masts on pavements and the highway. But the phone companies appeal and an independent inspectors decides, usually in favour of the mast. There is no further right of appeal. What price democracy ?