UK councils, all of them no matter their size, do not have a legal duty to provide street lighting. It follows that they also have no legal duty to provide 5G equipment to residents that is being attached to those lamp posts.
The reason councils are not legally obliged to provide street lighting is purely for financial reasons: to avoid claims of negligence or failure to provide street lighting in the event a resident injures themselves under poor lighting due to broken lamps.
“Currently, it seems to me that councils may want it both ways, i.e., no responsibility in law for failing to maintain their lighting equipment, and then the facility to rebuff any potential claims should personal injury cases arise connected to the retro-fitting of non-safety tested, potentially hazardous 5G infrastructure,” Cardin says.
Paul Cardin is a former “sparker,” radio communication operator, for the Royal Navy, former local authority street lighting designer and resident of Wirral, Merseyside, UK.
By Paul Cardin
There’s a crucial legal point here that I’ve never seen mentioned or covered anywhere else and I’ve been aware of it for a good few years.
All UK councils, no matter their size, have no duty to provide street lighting. So, all the lamp posts in all the streets in urban and rural locations everywhere in the UK are provided under a power. This was voluntarily taken up a long time ago, since well before I was born, anyway! The exercise of their power in this area serves them well financially because it helps them to outflank most legal claims where a loss or injury has been suffered due to faulty equipment.
Now, the important point to make is that given they have no duty in law to provide any lamp posts or associated equipment, then it would correspond that they have no duty to provide 5G facilities to customers when that 5G infrastructure is actually ATTACHED to these lamp posts. I believe they (elected AND unelected council officials) are therefore in NO position to complain that they MUST provide superfast broadband speeds to their residents – because there is no legal duty in existence requiring them do this.
Can Councils legally turn off the lights?
Yes, and with no legal come back. Because there is no statutory requirement on UK Councils to light the highway:
- The Highways Act empowers local authorities to light roads, but does not impose a duty to do so
- The Council does have a duty of care to road users. It also has an obligation to light permanent obstructions on the highway, such as central refuges and speed humps
Once the lighting is installed, there is a duty to maintain it and to keep it safe.
Given the above, where exactly do councils stand when it comes to third-party equipment that is attached to their lamp posts? The following is an informative, official government link that was posted on the UK.gov site recently:
The reason I state there is no duty here is the fact that these 5G transceivers (relaying points) will be wired to lanterns on top of 8, 10 and sometimes 12-metre lamp posts which were voluntarily installed under a power. This is a point that I make clearly in the video below.
As you can see, a trial is now underway to affix 5G relay points to lamp posts, buildings and street furniture in order to advance the roll-out of 5G networks in the UK. The reason for this is that 5G multi-antenna masts alone are not capable of providing the full coverage needed.
What’s being omitted at the above government link is the fact that 5G microwaves are ‘line of sight’, cannot pass through buildings and struggle to pass through trees and dense foliage. This is where council lamp posts come in. When 5G transceivers (relaying points) are fixed to the top of say, every fifth main road lamp post, buildings, trees and foliage are no longer obstacles and the 5G signal can be carried around and beyond them.
I have a couple of concerns related to the use of lamp posts. One is associated with legal duties and the other with public safety.
I’d envisage that negotiations between local authorities and telecoms companies – particularly BT and EE – have either reached a very advanced stage or are now concluded.
The problem here is the officials involved in these negotiations are unelected senior officers who preside over councils’ highways and finance departments. These are “back office” people who can and often do act beyond public oversight. They will be briefed by elected councillors – or so we are told – to obtain the best technical and financial deals for the public. Over the last few years, negotiations have been taking place between these officers and technical / finance directors of the various telecom companies. Councils are on the public record, displaying their reluctance to release and make public, not just the minutes of these negotiations, but anything related to 5G plans and proposals.
For example, in 2019, the Information Rights department at Gateshead Council gave a particularly alarming email response to a benign request from Freedom of Information campaigner Alan Dransfield:
“Please refer to the email sent to you by Gateshead Council on 23 January 2019 in which the Council stated that we are treating any requests regarding 5G as being part of a campaign, vexatious under section 14(1) of the Act. On this basis, we will not be responding to your request.”
I’m no longer involved with the council, obviously, but I know the field having worked in it, and because it’s a power taken up voluntarily, councils collectively will be wary of any personal injury claims arising linked to the proximity of lamp post-mounted 5G transceivers to residents’ houses and workplaces.
Hi everyone, Paul Cardin here of the Wirral In It Together blog. I’ll start this video with a statement I know to be true, which is, UK councils have no duty to provide street lighting. So, does it follow that they have no duty to provide 5G infrastructure?
All right. Keep watching.
I should start by saying that I posted this item on the Wirral In It Together blog just over a year ago. So, we’re going back quite a way. But since then, things have moved on very quickly. 5G has been rolled out in several UK cities by various telecoms companies. And hundreds of 20-metre 5G masts are now being erected all over the country. Local to Wirral a 5G mast in Birkenhead was refused planning permission recently. But a second application is now being considered by the council’s planning department and planning committee.
So first of all, a little about me. Speaking as a former local authority street lighting designer, I can state with confidence that although I left the role over 10 years ago, the provision of public street lighting is a power and not a duty. But what does this mean in plain language? Well, the advantage to your local council is a purely financial one.
Under this arrangement, should you be walking along the road and injure yourself in the reduced visibility beneath a broken streetlight, there’s a very good chance that you will not be able to build a claim against them for negligence or failure to maintain their equipment. Because they are not duty-bound to provide those lampposts and lanterns and lamps in the first place.
In the notes below this video I’ve copied a link to a court case expanding on this point, which involves my former employer, Cheshire West and Chester Council. I finally left this employer – and there lies a tale – just a month before this incident.
Although the regulatory authorities are extremely keen to have Chinese firm Huawei jumping through hoops to obtain their 5G certifications, matters are rather more relaxed when it comes to providing the public with some or any reassurance that the technology is not hazardous to human health. You see, in the rush to provide us with super-fast broadband, and themselves with eye-watering profits, they haven’t been required by UK government, or its regulatory partners, to conduct any [adequate] safety tests. The customary failsafe on product safety – known as the precautionary principle – which has to be satisfied before any UK product is allowed onto the market, is being completely ignored and bypassed in the case of 5G infrastructure and 5G mobile phones. This dangerous cart before the horse situation also applies in the United States and elsewhere globally.
And now, some more about me. One of my previous occupations was in the Royal Navy, which occurred a long time before my street lighting experience. Here, I worked in radio communications on both ships and shore bases for a period of seven years between 1976 and 1983. So along with the street lighting, I also happen to have a very good understanding of radio propagation. The ups and downs, the ins and outs, and basically how far around the world you could expect to fling your signal, be it voice, morse, radio automatic teletype – that’s me giving my age away – when taking into account terrain, time of day or night, power and frequency requirements.
In my time on Royal Navy ships I remember with alarming clarity the vivid red circles painted on the upper deck around high frequency (HF), high power whip aerials. Basically, the received wisdom for us radio people or sparkers on this was to do with male fertility. Do not enter this area if you want to be in a position to father children when you’re a big boy.
Okay, onto the technical bit. As far as radio propagation goes with 5G, we’re talking microwave, millimetre band radiation within the SHF band of super high frequencies or between 3 and 30 gigahertz (Ghz). 5G itself occupies the narrower, Long Term Evolution ranges of between 600 megahertz (Mhz) to 6 Ghz. And also 24 to 86 Ghz. With super-fast data rates expected of 20 gigabits per second inside the latter group of millimetre bands.
The problem with this bandwidth is that although it’s line of sight, there are power losses and therefore economic losses, requiring signal relaying transceivers to be mounted at least 150 metres apart. Taller masts would provide economic benefits. Greater distances between masts would give better coverage. But 25 metres in height is the legal limit in the UK. I think that may have gone up, but crucially, the higher the frequency – in this case up to 86 Ghz – the lower the signal range. And this is where 30-metre spaced eight to ten-metre street lighting columns or lamp posts come in.
Presumably a large proportion of the EE roll-out and other subsequent ones will involve the use of tall buildings, independently installed masts and millions – yes, millions – of council lamp posts. On average, eight and ten-metre tall main road lighting columns or lamp posts have an approximate 30-metre design spacing. I’d envisage that negotiations between local authorities and telecoms companies – particularly BT and EE – have either reached a very advanced stage or are now concluded.
However, I’ve placed another link below to an article in the Guardian newspaper. It often contains business and technology news which is covered very well, and done without any recourse to the accustomed political fakery that the Guardian gets involved with. I’d like to thank campaigner Ian R Crane for bringing my attention to this.
And finally, the crux of this video; as the provision of public street lighting is a power and not a duty, when a local authority agrees to make its lighting stock available for dual-purpose use, that of enabling a technologically advanced, although thoroughly dubious, non-safety tested telecommunications network – which is invisibly zapping out microwaves in all directions, often at high power – then matters get quite complicated.
Local authorities, be they County, Unitary, District or Parish Councils, all have one thing in common; a constitution. Below in the notes is a link to the constitution of my local council, Wirral. I echo the words of Ian R Crane here. Let’s examine these documents for all local councils across the United Kingdom, find the public pledges they’ve made and hold their feet to the fire. From page 8 in the Wirral constitution for example, here’s a pledge that most people were probably not aware of; quote, “The council welcomes participation by its citizens in its work”. Okay? So, the next time Councillor Bloggs tries to close you down or fob you off, hold his feet to the fire and quote it back at him.
[Since this video was recorded, the Wirral Constitution has been altered to rule out public involvement in the above terms. Here is the current LINK (scroll to C. Participation)…]
As for the power and duty thing, how can a council potentially say to you as a citizen, in the near future, that they have a duty to help citizens achieve superfast 5G connection speeds if the equipment they’re talking about is mounted on a lamp post which they had absolutely no duty to provide?
That’s very important. Radio Frequency (RF) has been determined a potential carcinogen by the World Health Organisation. That’s a fact. And at the business end of all this, down on street level, you may be unlucky enough to live on a main road and have an 8 or 10-metre lamppost out the front, with a 5G transceiver fitted to its lantern. The radio frequency signal emerging from this 24/7 may not breach walls, but it will stream through the glass of your windows and bounce around inside the room.
If your baby or toddler is put to bed for 10 to 12 hours every night in the vicinity of a 5G microwave emitting, street lighting, lantern-mounted transceiver, i.e. between three and five metres away from it, and your baby develops a cancer, did the council exceed their power by agreeing to have the offending 5G transceiver fitted on top of a streetlighting lantern which very importantly, they had no duty to install? That is crucial.
Currently, it seems to me that councils may want it both ways, i.e., no responsibility in law for failing to maintain their lighting equipment, and then the facility to rebuff any potential claims should personal injury cases arise connected to the retro-fitting of non-safety tested, potentially hazardous 5G infrastructure.
Okay, that’s it for now. I’ll be keeping my eye on how things pan out, both here on Wirral, and nationally, with everything I’ve mentioned in mind. Let’s not forget that the telecoms industry here in the UK was given protected status right through the three long months of Covid-19 lockdown, allowing them free rein to step it up while we were all conveniently out of the way and stuck indoors and unable to ask questions, much less, protest.
Okay. They really took advantage of us. That’s it. Don’t forget to like, share and subscribe. And I’ll see you next time. Take care.
Link to Wirral In It Together’s original blog post, HERE.
Link to the court case expanding on the areas of local authorities’ powers and duties, which involves my former employer, Cheshire West & Chester Council. I finally left this employer just a month before this incident, follow this LINK to read more.
Read this article from the Guardian (sometimes it contains business / technology news which is covered very well and done without any recourse to fakery). I’d like to thank Ian R Crane for bringing my attention to this, follow this LINK to read more.
Local authorities, be they County, Unitary, District or Parish councils all have one thing in common; a constitution. Here’s the link to Wirral Council’s constitution, follow this LINK to read more.
Radio Frequency (RF) has been determined a potential carcinogen by the World Health Organisation, follow this LINK to read more.