17
Jun
2005

Money Before Children's Health

Advice Line 08704 322 377

Press Office 01962 864 388

PRESS RELEASE

MAST SANITY PRESS RELEASE – JUNE 16th 2005

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MONEY BEFORE CHILDREN'S HEALTH: THE PUBLIC PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP SCANDAL

The numbers of representations that Mast Sanity is receiving from concerned PARENTS has during the last few months increased substantially owing to considerable powers that private contractors have been granted under schemes to build new schools and other educational facilities.

Evidence is emerging that private companies and venture capitalists who are winning contracts to build new schools are having mobile phone and TETRA masts on school premises. Parents are questioning who will be receiving the rental income from the phone companies, and whether inappropriate pressure is being placed on educational facilities to accept telecommunication installations contrary to the wishes of staff, parents and governors due solely to financial interests of the venture capitalists and others who are potentially profiting from the fees that can amount to £20,000 per annum per installation, contrary to the interests and well-being of the pupils.

The Public Private Partnership (formerly PFI) is a scheme whereby private companies or consortiums raise the money needed to build new schools or refurbish existing ones and then lease them back to the local education authority complete with services. The education authority then makes annual payments to the private consortium. The contract is between the private consortium and the council. Parents fear powers will be removed from the school governors, who are being forced into contracts for repairs and maintenance and service contracts without detailed information on the proposals. Service contracts are also being transferred to private contractors.

Jo Ross, a parent who lives in Werrington in Peterborough, fears that she will be forced to move her daughter to another school. The one she presently attends is to be refurbished by a private contractor under this initiative. She is concerned that income from phone masts on school premises may find its way into the pocket of the venture capital company undertaking the refurbishment and may be viewed as a lucrative source of revenue.

"There are already three masts in the school grounds and there is nothing to stop a private consortium from having further masts on the premises and I fear the school governors and parents will be powerless to stop them," says Mrs Ross.

"New schools are being built all over Peterborough and so there is nothing to stop private consortiums who are building the schools from having phone and TETRA masts on the premises of several schools."

"The secondary school in Walton in Peterborough is also to be rebuilt by a private consortium and the mast on the roof of the existing school in Walton will be transferred to the new school."

Mast Sanity has also been informed that at least two of the companies tendering for a contract to build schools in Peterborough are also involved in mobile phone telecommunications equipment and installations.

Mast Sanity advice line co-ordinator Sandi Lawrence says, "This is another phone mast scandal that Mast Sanity is now getting calls from concerned parents about. Mobile phone and TETRA masts shouldn't be on school premises because of the health risks from pulsed microwave radiation. Private consortiums shouldn't be allowed to have phone and TETRA masts on school premises as a source of revenue. There are serious question marks over the degree of public accountability locally under this initiative and over public participation and consultation in their planning. It’s possible that mobile phone operators have interests in these private companies and they are all entering into lucrative deals. This is money before children's health."

Mast Sanity's director of health and safety Yasmin Skelt says, "Legal experts have already been called in to investigate whether the mobile phone mast at St Edward's RC Primary School in Coleshill in Warwickshire can be pulled down because of concerns over the health of the pupils. This follows an informal health survey which appears to show that 98 per cent of pupils are suffering from health problems which include headaches, nausea, itchy eyes, tiredness or nosebleeds. The findings of this survey, carried out with parents of 200 children at the school, is to be presented to a meeting of the World Health Organisation in Geneva this week, to call for a national study into the health of every child whose school is close to a phone mast or has one on its premises."

ENDS


Mast Sanity Contacts:
Yasmin Skelt 01923 286430
Sian Meredith 01225 483284
Karen Barratt 01962 864388
jo-ross@btconnect.com

For general information see //www.mastsanity.org

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For information

Another appeal goes against us!


Geoff. Thanks for this. Another aspect that we must keep our eye on. Sefton has no plans for any PFI school contracts, so that's a relief. Regret to report that having beaten off the mast on the roof of the BT building at Mill Lane/Botanic Rd several times that the contractors arrived this week to erect one. You will recall that separate applications were rejected THREE times by Sefton planning committee but after the third rejection the phone company appealed and won permission from the inspector. This is just inside Churchtown Conservation Area for goodness sake ! But, yet again,local democracy (?) has been overturned by a non-elected individual planning inspector. I spoke at all the planning committee meetings on behalf of our Meols ward team.

From a visual point of view, the drawings showed a very slimline structure so it should not be an eyesore....but that is not the point, as we all know.

Nil deperandum..

Best wishes

David Tattersall
Councillor for the Environment
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