Estates are left in the dark over 5G roof antennas
Telecommunication company's plans for tower block masts are delayed amid anger from residents
08 November, 2019 — By Emily Finch
Michael Cliffe House residents Jenny Wallace-Bird; Sarah Nash; Richard Larcombe, chairman of Finsbury Estate TRA, and Jenny Wallace-Bird
NEIGHBOURS have accused the Town Hall of putting profit before their health after plans for 5G antennas on two tower blocks were blocked by a last-minute intervention.
Planners had been due to approve the 5G equipment at a meeting last night (Thursday) but a decision was delayed amid anger from people living in the flats who said they were unaware of the proposals.
Residents in the 23-storey Michael Cliffe House in Skinner Street, Clerkenwell, said that while plans had been drawn up for 86 antennas on their roof the council had not responded to long-lasting concerns about fire safety.
Sarah Nash, who is part of the tenants’ and residents’ association (TRA) committee for the Finsbury Estate where Michael Cliffe House is located, said: “The council have taken money and they obviously don’t want us to know about the 5G antennas. They wanted to pass it and then stick it up. Otherwise, why don’t most people in the estate know about the plans?”
Ms Nash said the TRA had only found out about the plans after the Tribune approached them for a comment on Monday.
She added: “We can’t be used like guinea pigs, they haven’t done enough trials on 5G and they haven’t done any tests in our flats to see if it’s safe. You don’t get 5G antennas on private buildings. Are we being punished for living in social housing?”
She said that no one from Waldon Telecom Ltd and Luminet, the wireless companies which are looking to install the antennas, had given them any reassurance that their technology was safe.
University student Louise Williams, who lives in the block with her four-year-old son, said: “We haven’t even had fire doors installed in our homes yet. That’s taken years.
“There’s a bunch of stuff the council have promised and we’re waiting around and nothing has happened. Solving fire safety issues should be the priority but instead they’re pushing for more negative impact to our health without anybody taking the correct steps to positively impact our health and that’s ridiculous.”
As the Tribune previously reported in 2017, residents have long-battled for better fire safety measures in their homes after an independent fire inspector said the block was “inherently unsafe” following an inspection and called for Islington Council to replace the fire doors in the communal areas to stop smoke spreading in the event of a fire.
Another resident Jenny Wallace-Bird, said: “I didn’t know about it and if I did I would go crazy about it. We absolutely didn’t get letters.”
Residents in the nearby Braithwaite House, in Bunhill Row, also said they were not aware of similar plans for 5G antennas on their roof before being approached by the Tribune.
Susie Lukes, who lives on the 17th floor of the 19-storey 1960s building, said: “I spoke to the manager of the building and he knew absolutely nothing. Everybody should have had a leaflet telling them what’s happening. We’ve been through enough already.”
The council removed cladding from Braithwaite House after tests found it was made out of similar material to that found on Grenfell Tower which tragically caught fire and killed 72 people two years ago.
As the Tribune asked questions, the Town Hall dramatically delayed deciding on both applications last night.
Council officers had recommended that councillors grant the applications.
The plans said that there was an official declaration from the manufacturers that the antennas “would not generate electromagnetic radiation above thresholds that would pose a risk to the general public or workers responsible for maintaining the equipment”.
It is understood that money raised from the Town Hall leasing space on council-owned property for 5G technology would fund repairs and upgrades on homes.
The Town Hall had not responded to a request for a comment before the Tribune went to press.