13
Jul
2005

MAST PROTESTERS EARN MINOR VICTORY

Bath Chronicle

11:00 - 13 July 2005

A Residents' campaign to stop a mobile phone mast being erected in the heart of their community has scored a minor victory. Councillors last night delayed a decision on whether to allow phone company Hutchinson 3G to site the mast above the Smile shop on Bear Flat.

Members of Bath and North East Somerset Council's Bath south local committee argued that inadequate research had been done into whether the mast could be located elsewhere, and said more time should be spent examining whether Hutchinson could share the same site as a rival phone company.

Although protesters were relieved that a decision on the application had been deferred, they said after the meeting that they were braced to continue their battle.

The campaigners claim that Hutchinson's proposed mast would be too close to homes.

They celebrated earlier this year when an application for the same site by phone company O2 was withdrawn when the company agreed to work on a plan for a mast site in nearby Alexandra Park.

Within months Hutchinson 3G had submitted its application for the same Smile site on Wellsway.

Last night, it was Hutchinson's scheme that came in for scrutiny.

Cllr David Bellotti (Lib Dem, Lyncombe) criticised the council's officers for the report they had provided for councillors.

He said it failed to examine whether Hutchinson could share a mast with O2, and he criticised the council's attempts at public consultation.

He said the decision on the mast should be deferred until all options had been researched.

Cllr Marian McNeir (Lib Dem, Lyncombe) praised the opponents of the scheme. She said: "If we cannot listen to our residents on this, we would not be respecting them in the way that we should.

"There is the possibility of mast-sharing."

Geoff Webber, the area development control manager for B &NES, defended the officers involved in the report and told councillors they were being asked to judge the 3G application solely on its own merits.

Councillors voted to defer a decision on the application for a maximum of three months.

Protester Maureen Armstrong-James, who spoke against the application, said after the meeting: "I don't like the idea of putting a mast in Alexandra Park. I think masts should go on the outskirts of the city."

She said she had polled more than 1,000 people in the Bear Flat area, and 98 per cent of them had objected to the scheme.

Fellow campaigner Margaret Stewart said: "Those of us who need to be are at these meetings but when the time is right we'll be able to marshal thousands to stand up and object to this development.

"We won't be pushed about."
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