30
Jun
2005

School masts legal warning

Jun 29 2005

By Neil Elkes, Evening Mail

BIRMINGHAM schools which lease their rooftops for mobile phone masts could face future legal action from sick pupils, it was claimed today.

The city's leading mast activist has slammed the city council for "washing its hands" of the problem by giving school governors the final say on whether masts should be put on their buildings.

Eileen O'Connor, spokeswoman for Seriously Concerned Residents Against Masts, said council chiefs were also throwing temptation at governors who would be allowed to keep at least £5,000-ayear per mast.

Mrs O'Connor said: "This is a cop-out. The councillors are putting themselves in the clear by passing responsibility to the schools.

"When masts are proved unsafe, as I have no doubt they will be, it is the school governors who could face the consequences," she added.

An independent survey of residents found that two-thirds were opposed to masts on or near schools but threequarters said they were an acceptable development to allow the use of phones.

Eileen said: "What we need are limits on all masts." Chairman of a council inquiry into masts, Coun Michael Wilkes, said some schools may prefer to have masts on their own site rather than scattered on private sites around the school.

He argued that by lifting a ban on masts on council-owned buildings, the city was taking control of the issue.

Coun Wilkes said that if the ban continued an equivalent or possibly greater number of masts would be displaced to private land under less stringent conditions.

He said: "We will ensure that governors are provided with an impartial package of information so they can make an informed choice."
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