15
Dez
2005

Residents to meet phone mast bosses

by Gazette reporter,
Ryedale, Yorkshire

CONCERNED residents are to meet with phone company bosses to discuss a controversial new mast in the centre of their village.

Orange at first refused to talk to villagers in Sheriff Hutton about the phone mast on Dasket Hill, but the company has now agreed to a meeting on January 6.

More than 130 residents turned out to protest after the mast appeared one quiet Sunday morning, despite both the parish council and Ryedale District Council opposing the plans.

It became clear that two administrative errors by Ryedale District Council led to the objections being sent to the phone company a day late.

Council bosses have apologised for the errors, and development control manager Gary Housden said he would take legal advice as to whether the council has any enforcement power over Orange to take it down.

He said the fact that the company did not place notification of plans on the site could render its application void, and he would know for certain by December 21.

Until then, residents say they are "in limbo".

Andrew Murphy, who lives with his family 85 metres away from the mast in Cornborough Road, spotted engineers there on December 3, and stopped them connecting the mast to an electricity supplier.

"I told them the site was still the subject of a legal review and that no work should be done until that was resolved," he said.

"They rang their boss and he said they had to get on with it, but then I said I would get the press involved and they left."

Mr Murphy wrote to Orange and negotiated the meeting on January 6, and was assured no more work would go on at the site until that meeting.

Mr Murphy's wife, Linda, said: "I'm very much heartened that they are at last prepared to meet us and listen.

``However, I'm not getting too optimistic.

``Our aim is to get it removed and, once it is, we will celebrate.

``But it's great that we can relax over Christmas and not be on a constant lookout to see if they are doing something."

At the meeting, villagers will show the Orange bosses alternative sites for the mast, including one industrial park and three spots where landowners are willing to have the mast.

"They are all away from homes, and that's what we want," said Mrs Murphy. "We don't want to make it someone else's problem."

Orange spokesman Duncan McGraw said: "Orange has agreed to meet with up to four residents and we are waiting to hear confirmation of that. We want to meet with them and listen to their concerns because lots of information has been published about the issue and we need to get to the bottom of these concerns.

"From our point of view as a company, we have legitimate planning consent for this site and we're keen to build this mast to improve mobile phone coverage in the area."

Updated: 14:11 Wednesday, December 14, 2005
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