Barrister to rule on legal poser of phone mast in park

13 April 2006

EDITORIAL - herts.advertiser@archant.co.uk

A BARRISTER is needed to help sort out a tangle over a phone mast proposed for Clarence Park, St Albans.

The district council's cabinet has backed a decision taken 18 months ago to allow mobile phone operator Orange to put the mast on a new floodlighting tower for St Albans City Football Club in Clarence Park.

In October 2004 the cabinet, acting as trustees for Clarence Park, agreed that Orange should be given a licence for the scheme.

But their own officers then decided not to go ahead with the plan following legal advice and their decision was confirmed by sports and leisure portfolio holder, Cllr Sheila Burton, and resources portfolio holder Cllr Chris Oxley.

Last week the cabinet took a fresh look at the plan following pressure from residents of the Marshalswick area.

They were concerned at reports that Orange would need 10 separate masts close to their homes if they did not get the one in Clarence Park.

The council's head of legal services, Mike Lovelady, warned cabinet members they had to view the application as trustees for the park and could not consider the fact that Orange might need to put up additional masts in other areas if it did not get the go-ahead for its scheme.

Valuer and estates surveyor Andrew Wearmouth said the latest advice from the Charity Commission was that the council could only give permission for the scheme if it benefited the park.

He added: "In all honesty that is something I could not justify."

Council leader Robert Donald felt that the council should call in a barrister to advise on the conflicting views which were being given about the legal position.

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