10:30 - 21 July 2005
Furious Prestbury residents turned out in force to oppose plans for a mobile phone mast on their doorsteps.
A crowd of 300 schoolchildren, parents, teachers, residents and councillors met outside St Mary's Church Hall, in Bouncers Lane. Mobile phone giant Hutchison 3G want to put up a mast yards from Prestbury Play Mates playgroup and St Mary's Infant and Junior School.
Opponents say Hutchison have chosen the worst possible location.
Protest organiser Linda Dove said: "I hope the number of people here sends a clear message to Hutchison. Their mast isn't wanted."
Hutchison say it won't make them change their minds.
Spokesman Mike Dobson said: "They have a right to make their protest but this is the most suitable site."
Daphne Philpot, chairman of governors at St Mary's Junior School, said: "Our message is 'think again and be responsible'.
"Until there's proof that phone masts are not harmful they shouldn't be built near schools."
Hutchison wanted to put the phone mast in Cheltenham Cemetery - but the presence of badgers changed their plans.
The company wants to put the pole on the back of buildings next to the church hall. It would stick up above the building by 3.7m.
Prestbury resident David Barnett said: "My grandson goes to school over the road. Are badgers more important than him?
"It's ridiculous and simply for the sake of making money."
Tanya Wood took her nine-year-old son to the protest. She said: "We live in Chiltern Road and my son goes to the junior school. He would be in the proximity of a phone mast for 24 hours. It can't be allowed."
Her son Arthur said: "My friends and I are worried about the health risks. They should build it somewhere else."
St Mary's Junior School pupil Emily Wilsdon said: "Everyone thinks it's mad. It's not safe to be built near two schools and a playgroup. It's a stupid idea and we want them to go away."
Coun Malcolm Stennett (PAB, Prestbury) said: "It's scandalous that this site is even being considered. Another location should be sought.
"We must keep the pressure on the mobile phone company. It worked for the residents in Leckhampton and it can here."
Coun Les Godwin (PAB, Prestbury) said: "An alternative site at the cemetery was agreed. Hutchison have spent three years trying to find an excuse not to use it.
"We all know that badgers are a protected species but so are children."
There are 180 children at the infant school, 240 at the junior school and 24 children per session at the playgroup.
Dennis Thorn, of Glebe Road, said: "Can we guarantee the safety of so many children who live, play and go to school in the area?"
Hutchison spokesman Mr Dobson said: "We can assure people that our equipment complies with health and safety guidelines.
"The scientific balance of evidence is that masts such as this cause no adverse affects to health."
Omega masts cause adverse affects to health. See under: