Gateshead Council looks to cast shadow over street light allegations

The North-East Council refutes “carrying out secret government trials” confirming “the street lights in Gateshead will not give you cancer.”

It is one of the more bizarre Facebook posts you will see from a local council and begins;

“We are aware that certain individuals are frightening local people with false stories about the street lights in Gateshead – despite the fact we, and others, have told them repeatedly that their allegations are entirely false.”

In aiming to “set the record straight” the post continues;

  • Gateshead Council DOES NOT use 5G technology in any of its street lights, or in any other capacity. It has never done so.
  • The street lights in Gateshead will not give you cancer
  • The street lights will not induce miscarriages in pregnant women, or cause insomnia, or nosebleeds, and they are not killing all the birds and insects.
  • Gateshead Council is NOT carrying out secret government trials in 5G technology via our street lights.

council fb 1

The post, which was posted yesterday (9th April) at 14:14 has since been shared over 1,500 times and attracted a wide range of responses including this passage prompted by Micky Cowen from Newcastle response;

“This is exactly what Gateshead council would say if all the rumours were true but wanted nobody to find out”

council fb

In a more combative response, Mark Steele from Gateshead added;

“Gateshead Council. If you have nothing to hide answer the second question and the FOI requests that are mandated by LAW to be replied too…”

 Nicola Richardson of Gateshead who suggests she lives on a street where people are spreading these rumours reviled;

“Can hardly leave our houses without having the latest data thrust at us, and going on and on for hours about it. It’s so irritating.”

council fb 3

What is being claimed?

According to this article by the Daily Mail, the aforementioned Mark Steel, who is described as a ‘local scientist’ is quoted as saying the town is facing a “humanitarian crisis” as a result of ‘more than 37,000 EMF-emitting lamps’.

Mr Steel, who has posted numerous videos on YouTube concerning the matter, suggests the newly installed street lighting has been the cause of miscarriages, insomnia and other complaints for local residents.

In quotes to the Daily Mail, Mr Steel said:

“We are seeing babies dying in the womb as these transmitters are situated.”

“We’ve got people bleeding from the nose in my locality. We’ve got people who can’t sleep from neurological disorders.”

What are EMF’s?

In guidance offered on Health and Safety Executive website, EMF stands for Electromagnetic fields and “arise whenever electrical energy is used.”

It further states;

“It has been known for a long time that exposure of people to high levels of EMFs can give rise to acute effects.

The effects that can occur depend on the frequency of the radiation. At low frequencies the effects will be on the central nervous system of the body whilst at high frequencies, heating effects can occur leading to a rise in body temperature.

In reality, these effects are extremely rare and will not occur in most day-to-day work situations.”

Within the link, the HSE also provide a PDF guide to ‘Electromagnetic fields at Work’ which “explains an employer’s duties under the Control of Electromagnetic Fields at Work Regulations 2016.”

The guide also “explains what an EMF is, what the law says and how to assess employees’ potential exposure to EMFs with reference to ‘action levels’ and ‘exposure limit values’.”

Are you a scientist that specialises in this field?
Do you fancy a trip to Gateshead?
If so, get in contact!

Note: An image of Mark Steel’s Facebook post has not been included in this report as it contained potentially defamatory comment.

3 thoughts on “Gateshead Council looks to cast shadow over street light allegations”

  1. Alex I find this article strange, why do you elevate random people with large facebook comments who are saying ludicrous things, what is the point?
    I can give you a lot of information on this whole issue but I get impression that you see this as a little jokey.
    Why do you not get in touch with Mark?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your comments, they’re appreciated.

      Now naturally I will defend the piece and structure, but to do this it’s important to understand what it represents and the methodology that goes into construction.

      So, this article represents a report, not an investigatory piece, primarily of a post to Facebook by Gateshead Council categorically denying claims of a conspiracy theory in relation to street lights that have been installed.

      The particular post in question has then drawn a wealth of responses, the majority of which are a humorous nature.

      Therefore when considering the structure of the story, I need to consider my audience and the weight given to each aspect.

      Clearly the humorous angle is the one that catches attention give the weight of comments – this is also evidenced by the way other outlets have decided to cover the story, such as the metro (think they reference ‘tin foil hats.’)

      However, for balance I have also picked out a comment from Mark and a resident who addresses concerns from a different view point.

      The piece then goes on to identify Mark’s comments to the Daily Mail, includes one of his YouTube videos and picks out the governments own HSE information in respect of EMF Radiation.

      So although you may suggest ‘I haven’t done my research’ for what is a brief report on something that has happened, there’s a fair weight of sourced information.

      Now I appreciate their may be some who have concerns about the situation – but as it stands, for me the information available sits in the unsubstantiated rumour category, meaning I can’t give the claims higher prominence.

      Mark’s position as ‘local scientist’ doesn’t exactly give weight to his argument, in my mind the evidence I’ve viewed is not conclusive and as a student journalist starting out I don’t have the contacts or resources to independently verify the claims.

      But then, this piece was never about investigating the claims – a separate piece my follow on that front in which case I would be looking to get in contact with Mark – it was about reporting what has happened and providing information so people can digest and make their own conclusions, albeit with a slant to the situation being of a more humorous nature – because in my mind, that was the best angle to attract attention to it.

      And so there you have the in-depth reasoning behind the article, it’s structure, mood and the prominence given to various parts.

      If you share concerns about the street lights, it is understandable you may not like the slant taken – but if it attracts attention and serves to leave a question in few minds, it may be more effective than you realise.

      Thanks again for your comment.



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