19
Mai
2005

Now Minister is cross as well

Wirrel and Birkenhead news

A MINISTER who allowed a Vodafone mast to be placed on top of his church now says his deal with the mobile phone giant was based on a trust that "appears to have been misplaced".

Residents were alarmed that the mast, which has a cross design on top, could be used to download pornographic images.

They also complained that the mast - fitted onto St Andrew's Church in Rowson Street, New Brighton - looked out of place, could affect house prices and may be a health risk.

A meeting between The Reverend Ken Blake, Vodafone and local residents and councillors had been arranged for a date three weeks ago to discuss the complaints, but the phone firm pulled out at the last minute.

The mast was installed in March to provide connections for 3G mobile phones - delivering high-speed sound, image and video content from the internet along with normal speech and text services.

After the Globe reported on the row in our April 27 edition, Mr Blake wrote to us saying: "The cross itself is not a part of the mast and does not play a part in the transmissions.

"The cross is also a symbol of God's communication with the world. Communications are also, one might justifiably say, an indispensable feature of modern society."

But he added: "St Andrew's Church have proceeded with the installation of the mast on the basis of trust and good faith with the assurances of Vodafone that matters would be dealt with fairly and properly.

"It was a condition of the agreement that if there should be significant resistance from the local community then we would not proceed.

"Vodafone undertook to conduct a consultation prior to proceeding. We took them at their word. Sadly, that trust appears to have been misplaced."

He insisted that the church was not "simply sitting back hoping it will all go away" and was now actively working with residents to determine what course of action to follow.

"That depends at the moment on gathering some information and until we have that we cannot proceed further," he said.

However, Vodafone spokeswoman Jane Frapwell expressed surprise when told of Mr Blake's comments.

She said: "We do not proceed to install masts without the full permission of the landowner, in this case the church.

"We also carried out extensive consultation in the New Brighton area. I'm a little surprised by this but we will of course listen to what the church and local residents have to say."
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