Vicar in church mobile mast row

BBC New Online 31st may 2005

Mobile phone operators have disputed safety fears about masts

A vicar has angered parishioners by supporting a plan to erect a mobile phone mast on a church spire.

The congregation has collected 500 signatures calling on the church to scrap the plan, which they say is inappropriate at a consecrated site.

But the Rev Elaine Bardwell says the mast at St Michael and All Angels in New Marston, Oxford, would help raise much-needed church funds.

The Oxford diocese says it is a parish matter that must be decided locally.

'Modern church'

Opponents of the plan say they are also concerned about the possible health impact of a mast, although risks have been disputed by mobile phone operators.

Rev Bardwell told the BBC: "We are a modern building, we are a modern church, we live in the real world and we think it is a good place for the mast.

"We have had a series of public meetings and listened to all the views expressed and will be keeping a very close eye on the health and safety issues involved."

Anne Furtado, who lives near the church, said: "More people have signed that petition than go to the church on a Sunday.

"I don't understand how they cannot pay any attention at all to what the people who have signed think."


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