Residents' anger on mast ruling
The Observer, Thursday May 7th, 2009.
Residents living near a controversial mobile phone mast in Hillfield are furious after the Local
Government Ombudsman ruled that they had not suffered an injustice by the mast being put up.
Residents successfully fought a planning application for the mast back in 2007-but a loophole in
planning rules meant that mobile phone operators T-Mobile were able to install the mast, on the corner of
Widney Lane and Monkspath Hall Road.
Solihull Council exceeded the 56 days needed to make a decision by one day- and T-Mobile were
then free to put up the mast.
After being told that T-Mobile were entitled to carry on with the work, the residents enlisted
the support of the CAVI Society (Citizens as Victims Enquiry)
The Society filed a complaint with the Local Government Ombudsman who acts as a watchdog for
local authorities and a decision was made last month.
The Ombudsman said that the Council had taken its eye off the ball with regards to the 56 days
limit and agreed that the Council was at fault in the way it dealt with the application.
The Ombudsman's letter to the CAVI Society reads:" There is no doubt that there was
maladministration in the way the Council dealt with the application."
But crucially, the Ombudsman said that this had not resulted in any injustice to the residents
and therefore would not order the Council to compensate them in any way. It did suggest that CAVI Society
Chairwoman Diana Hanson was given £300 to cover the costs of the complaint to the Ombudsman, which the Council
Paul Benson, who lives in Bushley Croft, near to the mast, said that residents wanted the
Ombudsman to reconsider the decision.
"We were particularly annoyed when the mast started to go up because we had been told it had
"Ultimately we want this mast to be moved."
He added that he was not against mobile phone masts and had a mobile phone, like most people,
but that he thought a housing estate was not the right place to put it.
Councillor Stuart Davis, Chairman of the Planning Sub-Committee said :
"we have accepted a local settlement which was suggested to us by the Ombudsman. We have apologised to
residents in the area who have been affected by this situation and taken new measures to help ensure that
it does not happen again."