2
Jun
2005

GET YOUR HANDS OFF PHONE MAST

Gloucester Echo

10:30 - 02 June 2005

Enforcement officers stepped in to stop mobile phone giant O2 working on a mast built in the wrong place in Warden Hill.

Residents bombarded Cheltenham Borough Council with complaints when they realised engineers were connecting the mast in Shurdington Road to the mains. In March, the borough council warned O2 it was building the mast in the wrong place, but work continued.

The installation is 9.5m closer to the bus stop than approved.

The company submitted a retrospective planning application and has been running the mast off a generator ever since.

But on Tuesday residents spotted workmen trying to connect the mast to mains electricity. They rang the council in their droves to complain.

Planning enforcement officers moved in at 4pm and told the workmen to stop.

Grahame Lewis, Cheltenham Borough Council's assistant director for the built environment, said: "Work has been halted until members of the planning committee have had an opportunity to decide upon the application.

"It's extremely annoying that the company has opted to undertake this work at this time, and we'll do all we can to make sure it complies with national policy.

"The company's regional headquarters will be contacted and advised of the council's very serious concerns regarding this action."

Paul Ryder, who lives opposite the mast in Hawkswood Road , said: "O2 has no planning permission. We didn't want the mast in the first place and now they've put it in the wrong place.

"The council needs to take a hard line. I guarantee if I put up a tree house across the road, the council would be on me like a tonne of bricks.

"I want the work stopped and the mast moved to its right place."

Neighbour Dawn Harris said: "It's disgraceful. I've just had an extension built and if I have to abide by planning regulations, why shouldn't O2?

"None of us wanted the mast but all we want is for them to play by the rules."

Angela Johnson, O2's community relation's manager, stood firm.

She said: "The planning authority was happy for us to put in a retrospective planning application and the enforcement officer has not issued any stop notice.

"As far as we're concerned, we're perfectly at liberty to continue work on the mast."
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