31
Aug
2005

Fury over mobile phone mast

Aug 16, 2005

Express and Star West Midlands and Staffordshire

A mobile phone company was given a police guard to start work on replacing a controversial phone mast before dawn today.

The mast had been pulled down amid protests. Residents last week blocked the entrance to the site in Stone Cross, West Bromwich, when phone firm O2 arrived to replace the mast and workers were turned away.

But workers returned to Walsall Road at 4am yesterday with a police guard and erected a fence around the site in Walsall Road. Angry residents accused the company of "sneaking" onto the site to avoid any protests.

The residents have been backed by local MP Tom Watson who said the 60ft mast in Walsall Road was an eyesore.

Mr Watson said the phone firm had abused its emergency powers and added that he had written to O2's chief executive Peter Erskine to complain.

He said: "These powers are there to keep the phone networks up and running during genuine emergencies like the terrible events we have witnessed in London, not just to bypass the planning and consultation process.

"O2 should be ashamed of themselves for what they are doing."

Residents' campaigner Ric Keeling, said the actions of O2 were disgraceful.

"They came at 4am when they knew everyone would be in bed.

"How low can you get to have to use tactics like this?.

"This mast will be just 20ft from my house and of course we are all deeply worried over the effects it could have on children and even adults.

"Round two might have gone to the company but this matter is not over yet," added Mr Keeling.

O2 declined to comment but have now set up a "one-to-one meeting with residents on September 30.
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