MP steps in over residents’ mobile phone mast dispute

Amber Rudd MP with angry residents
Amber Rudd MP with angry residents

THE town’s MP met with angry residents this week amid opposition to a mobile phone mast.

Amber Rudd has pledged to fight for people living in Parkstone Road and neighbouring streets after a council blunder led to the unpopular mast being set up in their back yard.

Residents were left fuming when Hutchison 3G put up the 12ft-high mast by St Peter and St Pauls Church without permission last month.

The row broke out because the company’s application was refused back in 2006 but it said it was never told by the council that its proposal had been turned down.

Under planning legislation mobile phone companies have to receive notice of the authority’s decision within eight weeks and if they do not, they can go ahead setting up the mast within a five-year period.

The council sent its refusal letter to Hutchison 3G on Friday, May 26, 2006, by first class post, three days before the eight-week deadline ended, but over a Bank Holiday weekend.

It has since admitted fouling up and Councillor Peter Chowney, the council’s lead member for planning, issued a public apology after the Observer reported on residents’ fury.

Ms Rudd said: “It is disgraceful that due to a mistake of the council the residents are having to bear the consequences.

“They are rightly concerned about the children at the playgroup, and about the quality of their lives now that this enormous mast has gone up.

“We agreed that the councillors would take forward the residents’ real and legitimate complaints and that I would speak to the company, which has put the mast up.

“The residents asked me to make clear to developers that they are flying in the face of what is fair and acceptable. I will certainly be doing that.”

Cllr Chowney said all planning decisions are now sent to applicants by recorded delivery.

Hutchison 3G said it worked closely with the authority to try to find an alternative location for the mast and delayed development for more than six months to that effect.