"Labour councillors are totally opposed to relocating the mast to Jesus Green. We don’t want to see thousands of people lose their mobile signal. But there has to be a better way than taking up valuable public space." Councillor Katie Thornburrow
Labour’s Executive Councillor for Planning Policy and Open Spaces at Cambridge City Council, Cllr Katie Thornburrow, today voiced concerns over proposals by telecoms companies EE and Hutchinson to relocate an existing base station from Park Street Car Park to Jesus Green. The relocation would make use of Permitted Development powers granted by central Government to allow for a temporary installation, and overrule clear requests from the City Council not to locate it on common land.
Cllr Thornburrow, outlined the Council’s opposition to the plans;
“Labour councillors are totally opposed to relocating the mast to Jesus Green or onto any of the City Council’s common land. and we’ve taken legal advice on our powers to stop this happening.”
The service provider who owns the mast is in the process of identifying a new permanent location, after having had one proposed site rejected by the Council’s planning department on conservation grounds. An alternative location hasn’t yet been identified by EE, and they have informed the City Council of their intention to erect a temporary mast on Jesus Green so local residents have connectivity, until a permanent location is fully functional.
The provider is using 2015 legislation that gives utility companies sweeping powers and has resulted in many new large masts, including the radar at Marshalls – which local Labour councillors campaigned against along with local residents – being built without any public consultation or the agreement of local authorities. And also, in the case of Jesus Green, allowing utility companies to site a mast there without the City Council’s permission as landowner.
Cllr Thornburrow explained the Council’s position;
“The situation is more complicated than has been suggested by opposition councillors. As Executive Councillor, my options are severely limited by national legislation, that gave telecoms companies sweeping powers to put equipment up without planning consent and to use public land without needing the Council’s agreement.
“We are as concerned about this as local residents.
“This last year has shown how important it is to stay connected. We will do everything we can to make sure that residents don’t lose that vital link to home schooling, shopping, neighbourhood support, GP services and work – as well as staying in touch with friends and family.
“We don’t want to see thousands of people lose their mobile signal. But there has to be a better way than taking up valuable public space, like Jesus Green, that has been so important in the last year.
“I’m working hard to find a solution, and a permanent position for the new base station and will, as an absolute minimum, put conditions on the temporary mast to ensure there is no possibility that it becomes a permanent fixture.”