Mast will stay due to blunder

May 2, 2006

Horrified Stafford residents have been told that nothing can be done about a mobile phone mast that was erected just yards from their homes following a council gaffe.

People in Burton Manor were shocked when the mast was sited on the Wolverhampton Road, near Gravel Lane, despite the fact that council had rejected the application.

It was discovered that a council blunder meant the legal documents did not reach mobile phone company Orange within the specified deadline, meaning the company was within its rights to erect the mast.

Despite negotiations between the council and the mobile company, Orange have refused to budge and Stafford Borough Council has now admitted that the talks have reached deadlock, two months after the mast was erected and almost 18 months after the original decision to refuse the application.

Paul Freeman, spokesman for Stafford Borough Council, said: "We would like to apologise to residents for what has happened. We deal with thousands of these applications and this is one that has, unfortunately, slipped through the net. Occasionally mistakes are made and we would like to assure people that it won't happen again."

Councillor Geoff Rowlands today criticised officers for what he described as unforgivable inefficiencies. He said: "I am angry that an important decision by a committee of Stafford Borough Council has been undermined by the inefficiency of council officers. This has resulted in residents of Moss Pit having to suffer the consequences."

Applications for mobile phone masts have to be dealt with within a time period of 56 days and when the planning decision was made in September 2004 there were still five days in which to issue the relevant documents. However, officers failed to send off the paperwork informing Orange of the decision.

Sue Hammett, spokeswoman for Orange said: "We don't feel that we want to move from the site."

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