Posted: 18.05.20 at 09:16 by Wells Nub News
A Wells-based member of Glastonbury's 5G Advisory Committee has spoken out about why he resigned before the group's report was published.
David Swain was one of four members who resigned, claiming that scientific fact was not being acknowledged by some on the committee, but chairman Jon Cousins insists that he would have preferred if the quartet had stayed in the committee to help provide robust arguments.
Glastonbury Town Council published its report on the findings of the committee at the end of April, calling for an inquiry into the safety of 5G before it changed its principle of opposing the roll-out of the technology, which also admitting that as a town council it has no power to stop any roll-out.
Some people are worried about the effects on health from 5G technology, while those in the mobile technology sector insist it is perfectly safe and operates well within safety guidelines.
Mr Swain said: "Basically the purpose of the committee was straight forward - to look into possible negative health effects of 5G on the public and to make recommendations to the town council on how to proceed in Glastonbury.
"I joined, having run in local elections in Glastonbury for county and district, to lend what I could to the effort in order to serve the residents.
"As a neutral person on the issue I thought it was important to have an objective approach and to analyse as much research on the topic as possible.
"However, from our first meeting it was clear that the agenda was already set and myself and other 'sceptics' were perhaps just there to make it look balanced.
"The majority of members were either already convinced that 5G was very dangerous or worse, were actually part of a conspiracy theory network preaching that it was the government’s way of controlling the masses and the usual rubbish.
"There were attempts from the offset to rush the process and report in November of 2019, clearly not practical for an official study.
"Members such as Mark Swann gave very sensible presentations on exactly how the technology worked but other entrenched members simply could not acknowledge the science.
"When you have evidence from some of the world's leading scientists and academics being put on an equal footing with crystal healers and someone's neighbour's cousin who heard something on Facebook, the whole thing begins to look farcical.
"The final report of all of ten pages is a mixture of hearsay and opinion with no firm evidence of anything dangerous and yet the recommendation is still to use the 'precautionary principle' to prevent 5G roll out.
"The initial outline for the purpose of the committee was sound but unfortunately it was hijacked very quickly, hence the resignation of almost all of those who’s aim was to be objective and science led."
Mr Cousins strongly denies the claims, and said: "As chair of the advisory committee, I reiterated on many occasions the need for all non-councillor members to adopt an open mind, to listen to all the evidence put forward in both written form and the presentations; to discuss the issues raised with impartiality.
"On occasion, balancing competing interests and the ability of some members of the advisory committee to make non-prejudicial decisions gave way to predisposition and entrenched, opposing views – strongly held by those involved.
"Equal weight was given to all contributions from the non-councillor members of the advisory committee, and the councillor members were able to take into account the prejudice, predetermination, and bias displayed on all sides of the argument.
"Town councillors are volunteers. We are not paid. We have very limited time to apply to issues – and deciding to dedicate ourselves to six-month membership of an advisory committee is no small thing.
"Why would we go through the trouble of this just to reach a conclusion that had been decided before we started?
"No one in our community was demanding this additional research, and it would have been much easier for us to have passed our initial precautionary principle resolution and done nothing further about it – which is what I believe has happened in other parishes.
"That we undertook to investigate this further was due to a genuine desire by councillors to explore the merit – or not – of our resolution. Clearly a thankless task.
"Like my fellow council members on the 5G Advisory Committee, I was very disappointed that members of the group resigned before the report was published.
"I agree that it would have been good for more weight to have been given to those supporting 5G and their reasons for doing so.
"However, by resigning from the committee they removed themselves – and their valuable input – from the process.
"My fellow councillors and I would much rather they had all stayed the course and continued to provide a robust argument.
"Perhaps the greatest loss resulting from the resignations was the opportunity to read the personal reflections of three of these members, which would have added balance to the supplementary material that the town councillors had to consider when the report was presented to Glastonbury Town Council.
"That being said, conscious that the submitted reflections did not fully represent the broad spectrum of opinion expressed by the non-councillor members – in the interest of objectivity – a number of additional observations made by non-councillor members who had resigned, recorded during the period the committee was sitting, were included in the supplementary material."