29
Jun
2005

City vows to be tough on masts

Jun 28 2005

By Neil Elkes, Evening Mail Birmingham

CITY council chiefs today vowed they would not be a "soft touch" for the mobile phone industry by lifting a ban on masts.

The big five mobile phone companies, Vodafone, O2, 3, T-mobile and Orange are set to be able to put new masts on city offices, schools, leisure centres and tower blocks from November 1.

The controversial move was exclusively revealed in yesterday's Evening Mail.

But Coun Michael Wilkes (Lib Dem, Hall Green), who chaired the six-month inquiry into masts amid fears they cause ill-health, insisted that the lifting of the ban would give the city greater control over the sites, locations and output of masts in Birmingham.

He said: "If this policy is endorsed, further masts will only be erected on council land and premises on the council's terms and we will not be a soft touch.

"The conditions we require are the most exacting to be found anywhere.

"I believe that this policy represents good sense and is in the best interests of Birmingham as whole."

They decided that by allowing masts, for example, on a high rise block, it would prevent three or four masts being sited on low level private land or roads in the same area.

Coun Wilkes added that if the ban continued masts would simply be displaced to unsuitable and less desirable privately-owned sites or roadsides where the council is powerless to control them.

A key consideration was the business community and the thousands of regular mobile phone users.

The Birmingham Chamber of Commerce feared that the city would lose its competitive edge and be seen as a technology "black hole" if the ban continued.

The Full Council will vote on the report on July 5.
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