Village in uproar over phone mast


14 January 2006 12:42

Care home bosses today spoke of their fears for the health of elderly residents after a phone mast was sited just yards away.

The controversial mast was put up by Hutchinson 3G just before Christmas on land next to Spixworth Village Hall and social club and only about 20 metres from St Mary's Care Home.

Manager Linda Bowker-Howe, has worked at the care home in North Walsham Road for three years, and fears for the health of her 39 residents, particularly those with pacemakers.

She said: “We heard the mast would be coming but we never thought that it would be placed here. There is another phone mast just further down the playing field and we thought this one would be put there too.

“We have almost 40 residents and some of them are fitted with pacemakers which could be dangerous.

“We would really like to see the mast taken down. My maintenance man is outside measuring the distance from the mast to our gates and it is 21 metres which is just unbelievable.”

Wendy Last lives on Elvina Road in Spixworth and walks to the care home about twice a week to visit her mother, Lucy Staff, 85.

She said: “I have a pacemaker myself and it says in the medical booklet that I should avoid all contact with strong electro-magnetic fields.

“I have to walk backwards and forwards past the mast about six times every week. People think it is ridiculous; I for one will never use the social club again.

“People in the care home are close to that mast 24 hours a day and it's not fair.”

“They hold fetes every year but know on earth is going to go there now.”

Lynne Jeffrey, chair of the village hall management committee, said: “The mast brings in £4,000 per year and that is vital to the village hall which made a loss of £1,000 in a six month period last year.

“If we thought that the mast was going to damage people it would not have gone ahead, but the village hall management committee thought that if you use a mobile phone that poses more of a risk than a mast.

“We did have a referendum and sent letters to every household in the area. Not many people replied but of those that did, three to one were in favour of the mast.

“So many clubs are run from the hall; we have drama, mother and toddler groups, bingo, the WI and lots more. Without the revenue from the mast we may have had to put the charges up so much higher that they could no longer afford to rent the space.”

The Evening News thrust the issue of mobile phone masts into the public spotlight with its Put Masts on Hold campaign, which began in December 2000.

The campaign calls for no more masts to be sited near homes or schools until further information about possible health risks is made available.

Norwich North MP Dr Ian Gibson backed the care home in Spixworth.

He said: “The local council may be getting money from the mast being installed there but the local residents will resent what they are doing.”

Are you fighting plans for a phone mast near your home?
Call Alasdair McGregor at the Evening News on (01603) 772443 or email al.mcgregor@archant.co.uk



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