Parents angry as masts go up

Jan Treacher and Jo Spillane with fellow protesters outside the Marlborough House

Oxford residents were shocked that mobile phone masts are being erected on pubs near primary schools.

Mobile phone giant T-Mobile is building masts on the roof of the Marlborough House pub, in Western Road, a short distance from St Ebbe's Primary School, and on top of the Chester Arms pub, in Chester Street, next to SS Mary and John Primary School.

The mobile phone company told the city council's planning department that it is erecting the masts, but the firm has permitted development rights and does not need planning permission.

T-Mobile signed a national agreement with Punch Taverns allowing it to put phone masts on its premises. But residents say the county council ban on mobile phone masts being set up in schools should have been taken into account.

Louise Elwell, of Western Road, whose 10-year-old son goes to school near the Marlborough House pub, said: "Putting up the mast here is inconsistent with the county council's policy.

"There is ongoing concern about the long-term effects of radiation that could be generated by these masts. I think this has been badly handled by T-Mobile's community relations department, who have not explained what type of mast or antennae is going up."

Jan Treacher, a governor at St Ebbe's Primary School, said parents and governors had contacted T-Mobile to complain.

"It's a very densely populated residential area, and I don't think residents are too happy either," she added.

On Saturday, residents living near the Chester Arms launched a petition against a mobile phone mast being erected on the pub's chimney.

Gordon Simmons, a spokesman for T-Mobile, said: "The mast will take the form of a flagpole on the side of the building, and it will be less than 15 metres in height, otherwise we would need planning permission, and the structure cannot be four metres higher than the roofline. There are 62.5m mobile phones in use in the UK, and they do not work without base stations like these."

11:42am today

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