Church says no to mast

00:00, Apr 12 2006

A MOBILE phone mast earmarked for a Kidbrooke church tower will not go ahead because of nearby residents' health fears.

Technology giants 3G planned to install a mast at St James Church, Kidbrooke Park Road, which would have provided a £10,000-a-year rent revenue.

But angry neighbours who organised a petition and thought the mast would be a threat to health have forced the plans to be scrapped.

Rev Kim Hitch of St James said the church wasn't prepared to be a willing landlord any longer.

A meeting of the church's Parochial Church Council made the decision last week.

He said: "Financial considerations are not the be all and end all."

"We were concerned that people feel that the church is doing something horrible to them. We were hoping to improve disabled facilities with the money at St James, this work will be done."

Mr Hitch admitted the decision was a U-turn but insisted he thought the mast was not harmful.

"We still believe it is the best place for a mast," he said. "We are still persuaded there are no significant safety issues with the plans."

"I hope that some of the new friendships we have formed with residents will continue. Everyone is welcome at the church and I want residents to know that."

"If the gist of the complaint was a community divided and a community against its church then we can't allow that to happen."

"They probably felt the church was against them but that was never the case."

Concerned resident Martin McGlone was among hundreds of people who opposed the base station by signing the petition and taking part in protests.

He said: "Everyone is pleased with the news, especially parents.

"There was a lot of pressure on Kim and there was a lot of pressure put on him by his congregation."

Mr McGlone said the relationship between the church and the community would not get any worse now.

He added: "Kim's stock will have risen in the community, but that's a personal view."

Mr McGlone said he feared 3G could apply for planning permission to erect a mast in the street near the church tower.

No one at the electronic company was available for comment.

© owned by or licensed to Trinity Mirror Plc 2006

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