O2 boss: 'We didn't do a proper consultation'

THE chief of mobile phone giant O2 has admitted his firm failed to consult Harlow residents properly over controversial plans to erect a mast near their homes.

Harlow MP Bill Rammell wrote to O2 chief executive Peter Erskine to ask why more people were not told about an application to site a 12.5m (41ft) mast in the grounds of the Territorial Army centre, in Old Harlow.

Residents in Bury Road, St John's Road and Old Road complained to Mr Rammell that neither they, TA centre users nor nearby Harlowbury Primary were properly informed of the application, which was refused by council officers in May.

Mr Rammell has since received a letter from Mr Erskine acknowledging 02's failure to consult was an "oversight" and not in line with the company's standard practices. He also said he has instructed the company to engage in sufficient consultation in the future.

Mr Erskine's comments came as O2 community liaison officer Jim Stevenson confirmed the company is likely to appeal against the planning refusal.

He said an appeal would only be lodged after a meeting with Mr Rammell and other phone companies in September to discuss how to improve the consultation process locally.

Mr Rammell said that although he was satisfied with Mr Erskine's response, the company should keep to its word if the appeal goes ahead.

"I am pleased that O2 have admitted that the consultation they undertook on this mast application was not in accordance with their own procedures," he said.

Paul Brooker, of Bury Road, told the Star that despite Mr Erskine's reassurances, he and other residents were discussing plans to form a group to oppose another application.

"The way they went about it last time was so discreet," he said. "People are not told about it so can't respond - it's how these things are passed through."

Neighbour Kylie Jones added: "Part of our objections were for health reasons. We want to nip this in the bud as soon as we can."


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