Victory for phone mast protesters

02 must really be pushing out the boat, as it is all about 02! Were the company a late starter or is it something they said or did?

Victory for phone mast protesters

SENIOR councillors have backtracked on a decision to give mobile phone giant O2 the go-ahead to put up a mobile phone mast in Barrowcliff. Scarborough Council's cabinet originally agreed to lease council-owned land to the phone company so it could give signal coverage for next generation mobile phones.

But a council scrutiny committee "called in" the decision because it wanted to find out more and was not satisfied by assurances that people's health would not be put at risk.

Members recommended the cabinet review its original decision, and yesterday's meeting of senior councillors agreed not to go ahead with the leasing arrangement with O2.

Cllr Dave Billing, who put forward the motion recommending a cabinet change of heart, said: "I believe the cabinet was insensitive given the public health fears and and the possible effect on the young people.

"To select a site next to a play area, a playing field, two schools and a children's centre just strikes me as incredibly complacent.

"A neighbourhood development officer is encouraging people to become involved.

"If you are trying to encourage community activity there you don't put something there that's going to put fear in parents' minds about their safety."

Jane Mortimer, cabinet member for housing, land and property, said: "I'm not pushing it against ward members' wishes.

"If they don't want it there they will have it somewhere else and so be it.

"People want to use phones and have phones but don't want the masts, and that is a problem. We have to take a precautionary approach."

Environmental health boss Andy Skelton said: "We are still in an era where the effects of mobile phone masts are uncertain."

Cllr Phil McDonald first brought the O2 application to the attention of residents in January after it appeared no-one had been consulted.

He and four other independent councillors prompted the call-in decision.

Many residents were unconvinced by O2's claim there was no risk to people's health in siting a mast near homes, allotments, a children's play park, a family centre and two schools, and launched a petition which dozens of people signed.

O2 wants to put up a mast to give signal coverage for the next generation mobile phones which allow video messaging and internet use.

It does not need permission to put up the 12.5-metre imitation telegraph pole because it is below the height requiring a decision by councillors and cannot legally be refused.

However, as the proposed site was on council-owned land the council had to make a decision about whether or not to allow its land to be used.

16 March 2005

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