Mast victory against 02 for the Netherton residents

Monday 22nd May, 2006

Press release

It’s surprising how your roots can keep pulling you home. Especially so when family or the local community have a phone mast problem.

“Slow down” is what I constantly hear. “You can’t fight everyone’s problems!” “Let people take the information and fight their own fight.” Etc etc but its not that easy. The ties are still there almost like some invisible umbilical cord, which I just can’t detach myself from. When it comes to fighting the fight against the mobile phone industry, no matter how tired I am, I find myself travelling back north to join the scousers in their never ending battle against the mobile giants.

So here I found myself last week. Back home in Liverpool. Netherton to be precise. O2 had spray painted the pavement to advertise to the community that that is where they were hoping to site their new base station. That is about as much public consultation that had happened and of course the planning office had sent out their letters to advise a dozen or so residents that this application had been put up.

One of the local councillors said if a teenager had been caught doing the same they would be prosecuted for an act of graffiti. The local community has encouraged the councillors to report this as an act of vandalism, anti-social behaviour and intimidation to the police

A lengthy petition was pulled together by a couple of residents and a public meeting was arranged. The meeting took place on Wednesday 3 rd May 2006 in St Benet’s Club; it was packed with over 300 people attending. It was great team/ community work that involved lots of foot soldiers. Local scientist Brian Edgerton and my sister Marie Salzano fronted the meeting another resident Billy Thomas was chairman of what was an emotional and highly charged event. The speakers along with the local councillors James Mahon, Mark Dowd and Peter Dowd answered all the residents’ questions.

Those who arrived with some doubt and a few unanswered questions left with a clearer view of exactly what the dangers are and also understood precisely how difficult it is to challenge and fight the planning applications for mobile phone masts.

Councillor James Mahon followed up this meeting by contacting O2 and arranging a smaller meeting at Netherton Activity Centre with fellow councillors, myself, Brian Edgerton and a small group of residents. This took place on Monday 15th May 2006.

After introductions, it was made clear by the O2 representation that they had come to the meeting knowing that there was a very strong community group opposing this mast, the councillors had recommended the planning officers to refuse the application. Much discussion ensued as we all wanted to discuss health concerns but O2 didn’t! Scientist Brian Edgerton demonstrated that he had mapped out this area and found no gaps in the coverage for 2G, it was then put to O2 that coverage would perhaps be needed in maybe 3 or 4 years time! “So – GO AWAY” stated one resident “If it’s needed in 3 years time then come back and talk to us then but don’t blast us with radiation unnecessarily!”

This meeting came to a close when O2 agreed to join the Radiation Research Trust in a meeting at Westminster as I encouraged the 02 representative to look for a safe bio-friendly technology as according to Dr George Carlo, the US Military already have this technology and it has been available for the past decade. I said I would be willing to set up a meeting in Westminster with fellow trustees from the Radiation Research Trust and representatives from the Government Science and Technology Committee. Councillor Mark Dowd said “Someone has to take the first step into the safe direction”. I hope they consider this invitation to seriously look for a future safer technology.

The final leg of this stint was on Wednesday 17th May 06. Without being too cheesy the tune “Oh what a night!” certainly came to mind. A rainy cold evening when the European cup final was on TV ‘Arsenal Vs Barcelona, interestingly Arsenal are sponsored by 02’. The councillors supplied two Double Decker buses to transport the community to and from the planning committee meeting which was approx 12 miles away. The buses were crammed and full of determined spirit. Off to hear the 5 minute presentation that I was about to present to the planning committee at Southport Town Hall.

Did you hear the cheers? I felt sure that they would be lifting the roof when the planning committee officer announced that O2 had withdrawn the application. The entire place just erupted into loud victorious cheers and clapping. Great stuff! The Netherton community has won this round, but haven’t calmed down yet as guess what? Mysterious paint markings have returned to the area, O2 have spray painted in two other areas in central Netherton. They haven’t submitted their planning applications yet but when they do I hope they realise that they will need their boxing gloves laced up nice and tight because this group is going from strength to strength.

Thank you for the full support from Councillors Mark Dowd, Peter Dowd and Councillor Jimmy Mahon and the un-named hero’s in the community who pulled together on this very serious issue. I suppose we owe 02 a thank you for bringing the local community together and making them stronger.

We look forward to forward to seeing 02 restore the pavement to its former glory by removing the graffiti they have left.

It just goes to show when you pull together as a team, anything can be achieved as the famous Liverpool song by Gerry and the pacemakers goes “you’ll never walk alone!”

Look out for the Bootle Times on Thursday 25th May, 2006 as they are running a full victory story.

Eileen O’Connor
Trustee – EM Radiation Research Trust (RRT)

Words from Gerry and the Pacemakers song

“You’ll Never Walk Alone”

When you walk through a storm
Hold your head up high
And don't be afraid of the dark.

At the end of the storm
There's a golden sky
And the sweet silver
Song of a lark.

Walk on through the wind
Walk on through the rain

Though your dreams
Be tossed and blown.

Walk on
walk on
With hope in your hearts
I And you'll never walk alone
You'll never walk alone.

Walk on
walk on……………………..


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