Phone masts ring up £410,000

Housing bosses in Leeds raked in £410,000 last year from controversial mobile phone mast schemes.

Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that 38 of the city's masts are located on council-owned land and buildings.

Last year Leeds City Council was paid the sum by phone firms for renting out space on its property, the highest for any of the 84 councils across the UK who have made their phone mast income public.

Another 50 authorities said they would not, or could not, disclose how much they were making from the telecommunications industry.

News of the council's deals was greeted with alarm today by campaigners.

They say no more phone masts should be built on council property until the confusion over their potential health risks is cleared up.

Although many people are convinced that long-term exposure to the radio waves emitted by the structures is dangerous, scientific opinion remains divided.

Mark Dobson, who fought a long-running battle against plans for a 12-metre high mast near East Garforth train station, said the number of council-backed schemes in Leeds was of "great concern".

Mr Dobson, a member of Garforth Residents' Association, told the YEP: "What is really worrying is that the odds are stacked against the public when it comes to objecting to these things.

"Because of the uncertainty surrounding the health risks, they are not taken into account when the planning decisions are made - and that, to me, is grossly unfair."

Thirty six of the masts are sited on residential properties - many of them tower blocks.

One more is at an office complex in Hunslet while another is on Potternewton playing fields in Chapel Allerton.

Today council leader Andrew Carter said the majority of the masts in question had been given the green light under the authority's previous, Labour-run, administration.

Admitting he had concerns about the possible impact of phone masts in general, Coun Carter said: "We are now taking a very strict line on this - for example, we are advising schools not to put them on their premises."

He also pointed out that many of the residential properties involved were the responsibility of the arms' length management organisations which now run the city's council housing.

The local authority would, though, be undertaking a review of the sites under its control, added Coun Carter.

Apart from two, all are on residential properties.
Marlborough Towers, Little London; Grayson Heights, Kirkstall; Queenswood Heights, Headingley; Clayton Court, Stourton; Lovell Park Towers, Little London; Potternewton playing fields, Chapel Allerton; Gledhow Towers and Lidgett Towers, Potternewton; Shakespeare Towers, Burmantofts; Gipton Gate West and East; Middleton Road, Middleton; South Point, Hunslet (offices); Meynell Heights, Holbeck; Cottingley Towers, Cottingley; Holbeck Towers, Holbeck; Gaitskell Grange and Whincover Grange, Wortley; Burnshall Grange and Burnshall Gardens, Moor Top; Beecroft Hill, Bramley; The Heights East and The Heights West, Armley; Poplar Mount, Stanningley; Barncroft Grange, Barncroft Court, Barncroft Heights and Barncroft Towers, Seacroft, pictured; Elmete Towers, Parkway Towers and Parkway Grange, Gildersome; Queensview, Headingley; Sherburn Court, Swarcliffe; Seacroft Gate, Seacroft; Lakeland Court, Alwoodley; Norman Towers, Kirkstall; Leafield Towers, Moortown; Clayton Court, Stourton.

04 December 2006

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