17
Nov
2005

Orange won't squash us

Wirral Globe 16.11.05

MOBILE giant Orange has bluntly refused to remove one of its masts from inside a church tower - sparking a furious war of words with protestors.

Local residents and councillors are adamant that the firm failed to properly consult over their plan to site the controversial mast inside the tower of Manor Church Centre in Manor Road , Wallasey.

More than 70 residents attended a public debate at Wallasey Town Hall three weeks ago to protest about the mast.

They are particularly angry because a playgroup is held within the church centre and a school is nearby.

But Orange - which is paying the church £6,000 a year - is refusing to budge.

In a letter to Liscard Labour councillor Christine Jones, Orange council relations officer Tom Powell said: "As you are aware, Orange has entered into a binding legal agreement with the Church to site equipment within its tower.

"Unfortunately, this is a long-term agreement which cannot be terminated at this late stage. I am sorry that this is not the outcome that you or the local residents would have liked but there is nothing more that I can do in this instance."

Mr Powell said he was aware that "some of the local residents" were unhappy about the consultation exercise but added that the situation "would have easily been avoided if the local ward councillors at the time had responded to our consultation letters".

Cllr Jones responded with a strongly worded letter insisting that the councillors at the time - in February, 2003 - all say they were not consulted about the mast.

And she warned that she and her councillor colleagues along with local residents would not back down until the mast was removed.

She wrote: "What moral right have you to force the people of this locality to live within the beam of your transmitter if they know the risks and do not want it?"

And she added: "You have rented the church tower. But you do not own the space in which my constituents live.

"This is not going to be one of the meek protests to which you may be accustomed. I know my constituents well enough to understand that they will not stop protesting until they can be sanguine that their living space, and their children's living space, is cleared of the perceived hazard they believe you are inflicting on them.

"Is Orange so haughty a corporation that it can close its eyes to the misery it is inflicting on this parish?

"You have what you describe as a 'binding legal agreement' with the church. It is only 'binding' if you refuse to release the church from it."

Cllr Jones told the Globe: "Residents view Orange to have virtually declared war on their locality.

"This fight is far from over, and if Orange think that this is the end of it they have another think coming."
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