Calls for council to use cash from mobile phone masts to improve Islington estates

07:06 03 April 2012

Constantinou, Lorraine

Constantinou, Lorraine

Archant

More than 250 people living in estates with mobile phone masts are demanding the cash generated – around £300,000 a year – be used to spruce up their blocks.

Mobile phone companies give Islington Council rent for putting the masts on 22 estates across the borough – income that goes into the housing account.

Because of concerns over health risks associated with the masts, and the fact many think they look ugly, residents feel the cash should be earmarked for improvements to their blocks.

Now the opposition Lib Dem group has launched a petition, with 250 signatures, demanding that the council changes its policy and allows estates to keep the income.

And the group will table a motion to that effect at the full council meeting tonight (Thursday).

Cllr Lorraine Constantinou is the Lib Dem representative for Hillrise ward, that covers Iberia House, on the New Orleans Estate, off New Orleans Walk in Archway, which has a mobile mast on the roof.

She said: “The Labour council is coining in the cash from mobile phone masts and residents get no say in whether they want the masts or not.

“It’s not fair that the council gets at least £300,000 from mobile phone companies while residents have to put up with the masts, yet their block may see no benefits.

“Lib Dems believe the common sense solution is that this income comes back to the residents in the block or estate. They should decide how it is spent.

“It could pay for extra caretaking services, additional security, garden improvements or extra lighting.

“With Labour councillors jacking up the rents and service charges by eight per cent this year, it’s the least they can do for residents in these blocks.”

Cllr James Murray, Islington Council’s executive member for housing, said: “We recognise there can be some inconvenience when the masts are being installed or accessed, but it is quite a complicated issue.

“If we ring-fence the money there is a knock-on effect and we would have to raise that money from elsewhere for the housing revenue account. For example, to replace the £300,000, we would have to raise rent by £1-a-month, or cut money from the repairs budget.”

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