Peace deal hope on mobiles mast

May 4 2005

By Dave Black, The Journal

A row over plans by a mobile phone company to erect a new 50ft-high mast in a Northumberland village looks set to be resolved.

Vodafone sparked anger last month after threatening to invoke emergency powers under the Telecommunications Act to put up the temporary mast behind the working men's club in Guide Post, near Ashington.

Local people - who already have an Orange mast on the same site - were horrified at the move and Wansbeck District Council accused Vodafone of adopting a cavalier attitude to the community to force through its wishes.

Now - following discussions between Vodafone officials and council bosses - both sides are working together to come up with an alternative site for the new mast, on both a temporary and permanent basis. In addition, Vodafone has agreed to co-operate with the council to bring together other mobile phone companies to examine ways of minimising the impact of masts on local communities.

The row erupted when Vodafone announced it intended to use the special powers to erect the temporary mast, without having to first seek the approval of the council or local community.

The tower was intended to replace an existing Vodafone mast which the company had been ordered by a court to remove from a nearby haulage yard in Guide Post to make way for a housing development.

Yesterday Vodafone said the haulage yard mast has now been taken down, leading to a deterioration in service for local mobile phone customers, but efforts are continuing to find an alternative site. Last night Wansbeck Council deputy leader, Coun David Nicholson, said: "The message which has come out of this situation is that all operators have to put communities first.

"At Guide Post, putting another mast 15m from people's homes was just not acceptable to us."

Vodafone spokeswoman Jane Frapwell said: "We are working very closely with the council to come up with an amicable solution."

Stan Latimer, 76, who lives with his wife Margaret just 30m from the working men's club and Orange mast, said: "I get very depressed thinking about it.

"We already have one monster mast out here, which is not nice to live with, and we didn't want a second one."


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