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Mark Andrews: Who needs 5G anyway?

By Mark Andrews | Opinions | Published:

Read today's column from Mark Andrews.

Will 5G masts put health at risk?

FIRST it was the scares about national security, now we are being warned the proposed 5G mobile phone network could potentially put the health of millions of people at risk.

The new network will require millions of new antennae using higher, more concentrated radio signals, leading to fears high levels of magnetic radiation could cause cancer.

Prof Martin Paul of Washington State University says: “Putting in tens of millions of 5G antennae without a single biological test of safety has got to be about the stupidest idea anyone has had in the history of the world. He is supported by Martin Blank from Columbia University.

Now I’m just a simple man from the Midlands, and I don’t know whether there is any basis to these worries or not. But given that 5G seems to be causing so much controversy, it does beg the question of why do we need it.

It seems the main reason is to give the extra capacity for ‘smart fridges’, ‘smart televisions’ and driverless cars. But who, apart from politicians, geeks and tech giants, actually wants any of this stuff? Driverless cars sound like a disaster waiting to happen, and I can’t think of any reason why I would want big business spying on my fridge or viewing habits.

As for the risks presented by the phone masts, I’ve no idea. But, you’ve got to admit, it sounds a lot scarier than those posed by diesel cars and wood burners, doesn’t it?

CHILD poverty ‘is becoming the new normal in parts of Britain’, claims an organisation called End Child Poverty.

And the figures do look disturbing. While the problem appears worst in London, with 56.7 per cent of children in Tower Hamlets reported as living in poverty, areas of the West Midlands also fare badly. Both Walsall parliamentary constituencies have child poverty rates of more than 46 per cent, in Wolverhampton South West and West Bromwich West it is nearly 45 per cent, and in Telford nearly 42 per cent.

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The problem with these figures is that they don’t reflect everyday experience. Walk around Wolverhampton or Telford on a typical Saturday, look at the families filling their trolleys, the kids glued to their smartphones. Would you really say four in 10 are in poverty?

I suppose it comes down to definition, but I’m not convinced anybody who can afford a smart phone, a home computer, a video console or a giant television can really consider themselves poor. Just 20 years ago these were all considered luxuries, the preserve of the well-to-do.

And reading the small print, it appears the study’s definition is pretty broad: it describes poverty as any household whose income is less than 60 per cent of the median. In other words, anyone whose standard of living is a tad below average. And, of course, as the average standard of living rises, so does the quality of life of people described as living in poverty.

I don’t doubt there are families enduring genuine hardship, but a figure of four in 10 is ridiculous. And, in my experience, those in real need are not the kind who shout about it. Sensationalist, broad-brush surveys such as this do not help identify those who really need help and support.

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A cynic might say that far from poverty being the new normal, End Child Poverty has redefined normal as the new poverty.

CANNABIS with an estimated street value of £40,000 was discovered by firefighters tackling a house blaze in Shrewsbury.

“Yo, peace man, I’m well mellow,” said neighbours after the incident.

Mark Andrews

By Mark Andrews
@MAndrews_Star

Senior news writer for the Shropshire Star specialising in in-depth features and commentary, investigative reporting and political matters.

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