Phone mast signals problems for stairlifts, disabled widow fears

Published: 28th June 2006

LILY Cauldwell on her stairlift.LILY Cauldwell on her stairlift.


A DISABLED widow fears that a ‘forest’ of phone masts lurking metres from her Marple house will cause her vital stairlift to malfunction, leaving her stranded.

Service engineers discovered electromagnetic interference with Lily Cauldwell’s lift in 2002, just months after three telecoms antennae were erected on a Marple telephone exchange, which overlooks her house.

They managed to fix the fault, but now T-Mobile has applied for a further three transmitters at the same site, which already houses six masts and a satellite dish.

Meanwhile a leading stairlift manufacturer has admitted that phone masts could indeed cause interference with their stairlifts.

Jon Stannah, managing director of Stannah Stairlifts, said: "I know interference can happen. Some stairlift controls work through radio control frequencies. If you’re right next to something that’s sending out strong signals on similar bandwidths then you’re going to get interference. The solutions are changing the frequencies of the different devices, or putting another control method in such as hard-wired controls or infra-red controls."

Lily relies heavily on her stairlift since an horrific car accident 12 years ago, although she receives support from neighbours, carers and family.

She is so concerned about getting stranded that she changed to a lift with battery power back-up following a power cut a few years ago which left her stuck on the stairs.

Lily, 78, said: "I’m worried. I’ve got to have carers to wash and dress me and undress me and feed me. But if they put any more masts up and something else interferes with it I’ve got to pay for my care. I wouldn’t like to have to go in a home."

Neighbour and carer Stella Munday added: "Her biggest fear is that she’s going to be stuck downstairs."

The mast application met with fierce public opposition at Marple Area Committee, and was due to be discussed by planning councillors last night, following a site visit on Monday.

Speaking against the application, local residents spokeswoman Jean Grieves said there was uncertainty surrounding the long-term side effects and detrimental health aspects connected with living near electromagnetic fields.

Councillor Martin Candler added that he detected a "quite perceptible fear of the health consequences of this particular mast."

T-Mobile has certified that the equipment is designed to operate within internationally recommended frequencies and power levels.

Omega read "Base Stations, operating within strict national and international Guidelines, do not present a Health Risk?" under:

Their agent Matthew Waugh claimed the plans were required to provide coverage to the Marple and Marple Bridge areas.

He added: "We’re complying with government guidance for site sharing." Stuart Pike

First published by the Stockport Express

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