12
Jun
2005

ANGER AT PHONE MAST SITE CLOSE TO SCHOOLS

Essex Gazette

JOHN PEACHEY

18:00 - 09 June 2005

Hundreds of Witham people today hit out at plans to build a mobile phone mast on a crowded estate near two schools. More than 400 residents from the proposed site off Spa Road , opposite Powers Hall Junior and Infant Schools, have signed a petition begging Braintree District Council to do all it can to refuse planning permission for the 14 metre high mast.

Now Suzanne Bartley, head of the junior school, has added her objections. She and the chairman of governors, Margaret Galione, a district councillor, have written a letter of objection to the phone company Hutchison 3G, reminding them of the proximity of the schools to the proposed site.

"This is of great concern to both schools," said Mrs Bartley. "The tower would be extremely close to us, definitely too close for comfort. It seems very strange to put it in the middle of an estate and close to two schools which have about 700 children on one site here. I hate to think how many more live nearby.

"I am sure there must be another site which would serve the area without causing this very great concern to us and the other residents."

The petition, which is still growing, has been raised by Brian and Brenda Bunn, of Brain Road, who live 15ft from the proposed site between Eden Close and Avon Walk.

"It's such a daft place to put it," he said. "It's ludicrous to try to build it in the middle of an estate when there are so many open spaces around, like next to a railway bank or in a field. Support is building up day by day."

Simon Gurden, of Eden Road, on the other side of the site, is worried about the health of his one-year-old daughter, Coral. A second child is on the way. "There is no hard proof that the radiation from these masts is safe, particularly for small children. It would also look extremely ugly."

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A spokesman for Hutchison 3G said their technology complied with the latest safety standards, and the company was satisfied the mast would blend in with the surroundings.

The application for planning permission will be discussed by district councillors within the next month.

The case follows similar situations in Hatfield Peverel and Feering, where residents have opposed masts and called on councillors for help.

Planning chief Les Mitchell said it was possible to refuse permission, but phone companies were free to appeal.

"Technically, radiation from the aerials is not a reason to refuse planning permission, but we are told to be sensitive to health concerns."

Witham Town Council's planning committee recommended on Monday evening that permission for the mast be refused. Members felt it would be detrimental to neighbouring amenities and an unsightly intrusion into the street scene.
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