Phone mast row firm pledges talks

Apr 21 2005


By Dave Black, The Journal

Mobile phone users will be cut off if Vodafone fails to replace its existing telecoms mast in a Northumberland village, it was claimed yesterday.

The firm promised to hold urgent talks with council chiefs in a bid to resolve the row over its plans to put up a 50ft temporary mast yards away from homes in Guide Post, near Ashington.

The company came under fire last weekend for threatening to invoke special emergency powers allowing it to install the mast behind the village working men's club without seeking approval from Wansbeck District Council or from local people. The tower is required as a replacement for Vodafone's mast in a nearby haulage yard, which it has been ordered by the landowner and a court to remove to make way for a new housing development.

There is already an Orange mobile phone mast behind the club and a number of villagers are horrified at the prospect of a second one being put up there.

The electricity supply to the existing mast was due to be disconnected on Monday but yesterday the company revealed that it was being allowed to use it until the end of this month. However, Vodafone says that at that point it will have to put up the temporary replacement under emergency powers or let local customers lose their mobile phone signals.

Spokeswoman Jane Frapwell said yesterday: "We have taken legal advice and feel we have a very strong case for erecting a temporary mast behind the working men's club. We have been able to delay losing the signal until the end of April but after that we would lose 2,000 voice calls a day in that area.

"We will be going back to the council to discuss the situation but we still feel there is a genuine emergency as we have done everything we can to find a replacement site. We hope to find a way of going forward."

Wansbeck Council says the emergency is of Vodafone's own making because it has known since November that its lease on the haulage yard site would not be renewed.

A council spokesman said: "We have said from the outset that we need to get around the table to talk about our concerns over the siting of this mast.

"However, we still remain firmly of the opinion that emergency powers should not be invoked in this instance, and that proper discussions need to take place so that the company can be made fully aware of the concerns of local people before we try to reach a satisfactory solution to this dilemma."


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