24
Jun
2005

Mast joy soured

by Neil Elkes, Evening Mail Birmingham

Jun 23 2005

FAMILIES' delight at the removal of a mobile phone mast next to a primary school was short lived after another sprung up in its place just hours later.

Campaigners and parents have battled to get the mast on the roof of AAP Consulting of Union Drive, Boldmere, taken down.

They thought they had won the fight when planning chiefs ordered its removal.

But after pulling down the offending mast, AAP director Stephen Alexander simply put another up and started the whole application process again.

And there was nothing the residents could do because he was exploiting a loophole in planning regulations.

The AAP building is next to the St Nicholas RC Primary School in Jockey Road and parents fear that masts so close could harm children.

Government watchdogs have advised caution against siting masts next to schools.

AAP has repeatedly ignored the pleas and petitions and has previously tried to place masts on the roof of his building by telling planners they are mounting poles for security cameras.

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He has instead sidestepped a costly legal action and enforcement by removing the offending masts and putting temporary ones on a trailer next door.

Sandra O'Keefe said: "This means we have to start the legal battle all over again and in the meantime Mr Alexander is lining his pockets for the next few months."

Sutton Coldfield Labour activist and local resident Dr Rob Pocock said: "It's simply no good relying on planning law to restrict masts.

"We have a total merry-go-round with the Union Drive case, the condemned mast is replaced by a temporary affair and we have to go right back to step one again.

"There needs to be a firm and clear legal exclusion zone for masts in the wide vicinity of sensitive areas such as schools, not on planning grounds but on the potential risk to children's health," he added.

Mr Alexander did not reply to calls from the Evening Mail.
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