Campaigner Wants To Give Power Back To The People

A CAMPAIGNER against mobile phone masts is calling on like-minded action groups to attend a "power to the people" meeting.

Mr Dennis Cannon, chairman of campaign group Together Against Masts, has helped to organise the public meeting on Saturday, December 2nd, in a bid to highlight what he sees as the lack of democracy and accountability over local issues.

Mr Cannon, whose group campaigns against the presence of mobile phone masts in Burnley, believes that a number of recent contentious issues in the borough have been decided by "faceless unelected bureaucrats".

He pointed to the recent decision to downgrade services at Burnley General Hospital, the attempts to remove one of Padiham's fire engines and plans to build the new Unity College on Towneley playing fields – all heavily against public opinion – as proof of moves based purely to save money. He said: "All these things have one common thread running through them, and that is all the decisions have been taken by unelected civil servants quoting improvement to the service to the public.

"Yet it is clear that all these exercises are to save money. Further, not one single person will stand up and be accountable for any adverse outcomes of these decisions. They hide behind a bureaucratic mask of anonymity without ever taking responsibility." Mr Cannon is particularly concerned about the possible ill-health effects of mobile phone masts, and criticised Burnley Borough Council's planning officers for sticking rigidly to government guidelines and ignoring the health risks.

He particularly criticised arguments put forward by planning officers that costs on appeal would be substantial to council tax payers, yet he quoted one local example where the costs were just £300.

He said: "I accept that the function of a planning officer is to advise the committee on planning law. However, the ones in Burnley seem to follow government guidelines to the letter, which eliminates personal views. Guidelines are not strict rules.

"Why should they influence what decision the committee makes? Elected councillors should be doing what they can to satisfy their constituents and most of them are against mobile phone masts." Mr Cannon added that Pendle Borough Council employs a telecommunications expert advising them on phone mast applications and where they are needed. But because Burnley Council does not have one, Mr Cannon says the committee just accepts the applicant's argument that a mast is needed in a certain area.

Charter 88, a national organisation aiming to bring democracy back to the people, and the Pure Water Association are expected to have stands at the public meeting on December 2nd at Burnley Central Methodist Church. A number of local community groups and Burnley MP Mrs Kitty Ussher are also expected at the meeting which runs from 1-30 p.m. to 5 p.m.

24 November 2006

All rights reserved © 2006 Johnston Press Digital Publishing.


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