21
Feb
2005

TV spotlight shines on school phone mast

//www.herts-essex-news.co.uk/mercury/news/story.asp?id=196251 also //www.mayeticvillage.fr/

HERTS & ESSEX NEWSPAPERS

Monday, February 21, 2005 - 10:20 AM full story

TV spotlight shines on school phone mast

CAMPAIGNING journalist Sir Trevor McDonald's topical Tonight TV show will throw the spotlight on a decade-long fight by parents to get a controversial telecommunications mast removed from the grounds of a Goffs Oak primary school.

Monday's edition (February 7) is due to feature an interview with Julie Matthew, co-founder of Mast Action UK (MAUK), which has been pestering mobile phone company Orange to rip down the mast from the grounds of Goffs Oak JMI School, in Millcrest Road, since 1995.

The programme features several schools across the UK which have telecom masts nearby.

Parents kicked up when Orange first installed the Goffs Oak mast, and some even withdrew their children from the school for two days as a protest.

MAUK was set up as a national pressure group tackling the contentious issue of the siting of masts ­ and in July 2000, Orange gave assurances that the Goffs Oak mast would come down within 18 months.

But five years later the group is still waiting for the mast to come down, despite Orange receiving permission from Broxbourne Council to attach a replacement mast to an electricity pylon on farmland close to Chiltern Close, in Goffs Oak.

Ms Matthew, whose son Robert, 10, attends the school, said: "We're still not happy with the site they're moving to. We found Orange a suitable site but they rejected it.

"I have had a letter home from the school saying that Orange is waiting for contractors to install the new mast before the old one is decommissioned.

"But Orange itself said it was having technical difficulties."

Mother-of-two Ms Matthew, 38, from Cheshunt, believes Orange has delayed the move until the very last moment.

MAUK'S other co-founder, Christine Mangat, of Woodland Way, Goffs Oak, met Orange representatives on Monday to discuss the matter, only to be told that the person dealing with its case had left the company ­ meaning the group must now build relations with a new representative.

She said: "There's no firm proposal to re-site the mast ­ a promise from Orange in words is worthless.

"We are now playing a waiting game. The ball is now in their court."

Fellow MAUK member Bill Englebright, 73, of Woodland Way, Goffs Oak, said: "It's disgraceful that it goes on and on when Sir William Stewart's report says that masts should not be near schools ­ but we've got a situation where it's in a school!"

The school's headteacher Linda Stubbs said: "There's nothing to say except that we're waiting for Orange to take it down."

Orange was not available to comment at the time of going to press.

* The programme is to be screened on ITV1 at 8pm this Monday.

proctori@hertsessexnews.co.uk

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