One of the perennial problems we face as elected councillors is the issue of mobile phone masts. Most people do not want these near their homes, or shops or schools. I have been involved in several campaigns to prevent masts - some of which have been successful campaigns, others not. But what's not often understood is that phone mast applications don't have to go through the same strict planning processes as others. And its true to say that the law is very much on the side of the phone company when it comes to these applications.
Residents are often amazed that the normal planning rules don't apply for masts. And it's clear to me that they should.
There's a planning bill going through Parliament at the moment. Most of the coverage has been about provisions around large projects - airports, roads etc. But there was a chance to change the law on masts. Andrew Stunnell, one of the Lib Dem MPs in the North West, wrote an amendment to get phone masts brought within normal planning laws. You would think that everyone would support that. Well the Conservatives abstained, and Labour opposed him. So next time a Tory or Labour politician attempts to oppose a phone mast, I suggest we ask them why, when they had the chance, they didn't do something to be on the side of residents.