31
Jan
2006

PARENTS planning to squash Orange mast

By Sara Nelson

Gary Cripps opposes plans for a 3G mast near Bedonwell Junior School BE2620-01

FURIOUS parents say a phone company is "re-igniting a war" after it applied to place a phone mast meters from a junior school.

Mobile phone company Orange has made the application just months after it was told to decommission a phone mast on the school premises.

The current mast has been on the site of Bedonwell Junior School, Bedonwell Road, Belvedere, since October 1996.

After the controversy of the first mast, which saw several parents remove their children from school, the school has refused to renew the 10-year lease.

Orange has been told it must decommission the mast within eight weeks of its new 3G mast at the top of the telephone exchange in Erith Road, Belvedere, becoming operational.

Bexley Council's planning control committee imposed the condition at a meeting in July last year, although at present, Orange is unable to confirm when the mast will go live.

But residents who opposed the first mast say the company is going back on its word.

Former telecomms engineer Alan Eaton, said: "Orange has gone back on its word and shown it has no concern for our community. There was no indication there was going to be another mast.

"Most people had a sense of euphoria that when the lease was up the mast would be gone. It's almost as if Orange is starting the war again."

The new site for the proposed mast is 20 meters from the school's boundary and just 100m from the current mast.

Mr Eaton and fellow Bedonwell Road resident Gary Cripps have begun a campaign to oppose the plans, named Orange Squash.

The pair, who only spotted the notice from Orange detailing its plans one week ago, have collected more than 250 signatures opposing the mast.

The petition has been sent to Orange, which says it will include the comments in its planning application to the council.

An Orange spokesman said: "Orange is trying to provide the coverage required and the proposed location is the best option as the school is no longer available."

© Copyright 2001-2006 Newsquest Media Group

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