John Leech MP defends Cllr Tony Bethell on scaremongering

Liberal Democrat Cllr Tony Bethell scaremongering on phone mastsJohn Leech MP has responded that the story ‘Lib Dem Tony Bethell: scaremongering on phone masts’ is inaccurate and misleading.

He explains that the suggestion that he and Tony Bethell have objected to a phone mast outside Withington Community Hospital on health grounds is simply untrue and that a Lib Dem proposal to site the mast within the hospital grounds was rejected by Orange as too costly.

The Liberal Democrats objection is that the proposed installation requires the removal of a tree; Orange has told them that this is the only UK location where they have proposed to replace a tree with a phone mast. Additionally, they argue a recent agreement between Orange and Vodafone to share 3G technology should make this mast redundant. Finally, he states previous leaflets that have made this clear.

A little while ago, I posted a correction relating to a separate issue at John’s request. Having read details of John’s response, readers are free to conclude that this is what I should do on this occasion.

However, I do not accept that it is reasonable to expect voters to remember the details of previous leaflets. If voters really did commit previous leaflets to memory, there would be no need to include a reminder of the phone mast campaign here. Neither do I think it reasonable to expect them to seek clarification on the Liberal Democrat’s objection. Voters should be expected and able to take party election literature at face value.

Furthermore, there is an active health scare based anti-phone mast movement, that has created an industry that trades on bold, scary, but unsubstantiated claims: ‘… plays a dominant role not only in immune deficiency illnesses… lowered intellectual development that has come to characterize our age.’

Consequently, this is a controversial issue that responsible politicians should approach unambiguously and with caution. It is reasonable for voters like me to take this election literature at face value and assume – especially given the juxtaposition of phone mast and community hospital – that the basis of Tony Bethell’s objection is health and that he endorses health scare based anti-phone mast campaigns. I’m pleased to have been put right.

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