13
Sep
2005

Councillor: I don't need mobile

Sep 13 2005

icSurrey

By Joan Mulcaster

A COUNCILLOR is so convinced it is possible to manage without a mobile phone she refuses to have one.

Jan Mason, the vice-chairman of Epsom and Ewell Council's planning committee, voted with other members to refuse planning permission for the 20 metre mast in Court Recreation Ground - a decision applauded by protesters in the public gallery.

She said: "I have chosen not to have one on moral grounds, but I should think most people in this room do have one."

Officers had recommended approval of the proposed structure - a timber clad, green-painted attempt at tree-like camouflage.

The committee turned the plan down as being unacceptable in a public park.

But both councillors and planners agreed that the march of the masts into Epsom and Ewell and other UK environments was not going to go away.

And Mrs Mason pointed out that, although it would have been the first in a recreation ground, it was not the first in a public open space.

She said: "There is one in Horton Park Golf Club."

The near 1,000-name petition and scores of letters from roads round the popular recreation ground represented so far the largest protest ever against a mast in the borough.

Mum-to-be Jane Case and Liberal Democrat councillor Paul Green finished off weeks of campaigning with an impassioned plea to the Thursday night committee that the mast should be rejected on visual and health grounds in a park where the greatest users were toddlers in Court Rec's playground.

Although protesters went home happy, they do not know yet if the five networks due to be served by the multi-company mast will appeal to the Department of Environment.

Planning officers pointed out that, with usage of mobiles ever increasing, the masts were unavoidable.

The non-voting Liberal Democrat councillor Lionel Blackman suggested more research should be done on the aesthetics, to find out what other countries were doing to disguise them as trees.

He said: "This could take the edge off the unpleasant aspects of masts."
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