Phone mast sites a nice little earner for council

nlnews @archant.co.uk

13 December 2006

HARINGEY Council makes more than £250,000 a year from mobile phone masts situated on its land and buildings.

The council charges rent on the 25 mobile phone mast sites in the borough on its land, each raking in more than £10,000 in rent per year and totalling £257,000, which the council puts into "central funds".

This is on top of the business rates it earns from all 125 masts sited in the borough, which are collected by central government and redistributed across the country, based on local populations.

The council is now considering turning the tables - approaching mobile phone companies itself and offering its land and buildings for rent, anticipating one new mast will bring in another £10,000 per year.

Anti-phone mast protestor Sarah Purdy, who lives close to Fortismere School, Muswell Hill, argues the money should be ring-fenced to fight company appeals against council decisions to refuse their mast applications.

She said: "One of the reasons the council give for not refusing a phone mast application is that they say, 'Well, they will only appeal and win anyway and it is costly for the council'. So, we're saying, 'Look, you're getting this money from rent so why not use it for the appeal and not have it come from other sources. What are they doing with the mast money anyway?"

A spokesman for Haringey Council said: "As this income is provisional and therefore not guaranteed, it has not yet been allocated to a specific project or scheme and will go into central funds.

"This kind of income helps keep Council Tax bills down and provide much-needed services."

He added: "Potential litigation is speculation at this stage and even if it did occur, we have insurance cover for such situations, therefore there is no need to ring-fence this money.

Copyright © 2006 Archant Regional. All rights reserved.

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