Mast firm’s link to pension fund

By Jolene Hill

Bromley Newsshopper,
London 17.11.05

PHONE mast campaigners say they are stunned the council has invested more than £6m in Vodafone.

Figures released to News Shopper under the Freedom of Information Act show £6.2m has been spent on more than four million shares in the firm.

The cash comes from the council's pension fund and is part of almost £100m of investments the council has made.

The pension fund is made up of contributions from the council's general budget, which in turn comes from council tax and government grants.

Campaigners from Orpington Residents Against Masts say the investment is a conflict of interest.

It argues if the council was to give a Vodafone mast planning permission, it could be suggested it was not acting independently as it has an interest in the firm.

The group, which has 70 members and was founded in February, threatened to seek a judicial review if the council refused to change its decision to allow a new mast at the BT telephone exchange site in Chislehurst Road.

The council did refuse and members are now considering what action to take.

Campaigner James Malone, of Chislehurst Road , Orpington, says although the council has not legally done anything wrong it does not look right.

He said: "This investment is in line with the council's cynical attitude towards mobile phone masts."

Fellow member Susan Green, of New Road, Orpington, says it is undemocratic the public does not have access to information on where public money is invested.

She said: "It absolutely stinks they have got a financial interest in this company."

Vodafone, which has more than 165 million customers worldwide, tops a list of more than 100 companies Bromley Council has invested in for its pension fund.

A council spokesman said: "Acting on legal advice, the council has a primary responsibility to secure the best investment returns on behalf of council tax payers."

The spokesman says investment managers seek to encourage good social, environmental and ethical practice in the companies' activities, details of which can be found in its published Statement of Investment Principles.


It seems to me that the Council in Bromley have breached the Code of Conduct, but I'm not quite sure.

How can they represent the residents by following their wishes not to have a mast erected near them if they have a financial interest? Or are they not going to represent their constituents in this matter at all?


Gill Lyden


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November 2005

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