Group gets £150 not £43m

A residents' group's claim for £43million in compensation has been knocked down to a £150 pay-off by officials investigating a mobile phone mast.

The Linden Garden Concerned Residents Group demanded the large sum as reparation for the drop in property prices that their homes will suffer when a Vodaphone mast is erected on top of Chiswick police station.

The group challenged Hounslow Council over the way it handled the planning application for the potential mast on the High Road, claiming it tried to prevent them from discussing the matter in an open forum.

They allege the council failed to put the issue before councillors on the Chiswick Area Committee and that officers' blunders meant vital communications were not replied to.

The application for the mast was allowed to pass through under permitted development orders'.

Group member John Hammond said: "Hounslow Council should rescind the order and let our councillors decide not just accept the decision of a non-elected officer.

"If the Vodafone installation goes ahead, it will be a massive eyesore on the High Road and for nearby residents.

"We remain firmly against the use of public property in this manner."

The group accused the council of maladministration and approached the local government ombudsman's office, which carried out a year-long inquiry.

The consequent local settlement report found the council's practices had raised a number of causes for concern.

However, the official investigating the residents' complaints skated over their multi-million compensation bid and denied their £20,000 expense claim. Instead he offered them £150.

A Hounslow Council spokesman said: "The ombudsman has not made any findings of maladministration against the council. The investigator did identify some minor areas of concern. The local government ombudsman is not a court of law.

"The ombudsman's role is to inform and educate councils, and we welcome findings that will help us to improve our systems and processes."

11:53am today



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