Scrooge council sinks tenants' anti-phone mast bid

01 December 2005

THREE Orange mobile phone masts are being erected because Town Hall bunglers wanted to save seven pence on the cost of a single stamp.

Tower Hamlets’ planning bosses have been forced to apologise for the fiasco, which has outraged hundreds of families on the Isle of Dogs.

It has emerged the council refused mobile phone giant Orange permission to build three 10metre masts on the Island in August last year.

Planners said although the controversial masts - one of which is near George Green's School - were disguised as lampposts, they would spoil the character of the area.

So when engineers - protected by burly security guards - started to build the last of them in Farnworth House in Manchester Road last week, bemused neighbours called the police.

Work was halted and an investigation was launched. The council even wrote to Orange to complain, but they have now discovered the refusal notice was sent out just a day before the deadline, but with just a second-class stamp.

The authority saved seven pence on the 2004 cost of a first, but the legal deadline was missed and consent was deemed given by default.

Bosses are now powerless to stop the masts going up, but have pledged to tighten up procedures by sending all future similar letters by recorded delivery.

A council spokeswoman said they were “sorry” and added: “Regrettably, this was a one-off incident where the decision to refuse the notification from the telecommunications company was not issued in time to be effective.

“We take all representations on planning proposals very seriously and regret that, on this occasion, those objections were ineffective.”

But local Tory spokesman Tim Archer, who led the original campaign against the last year’s planning application, said he would be buying the council a book of first-class stamps “in case it’s got anything else important to post”.



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Dezember 2005

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