Phone mast anger

By Tamlyn Jones

Jun 2, 2006

A sports ground used by children could soon be housing a 12-metre high mobile phone mast in a "black-hole" area for coverage. Residents have already voiced their opposition to the scheme.

Telecommunications firm O2, wants to build the tower at Little Stoke Cricket Club, near Stone, as they seek to increase their 3G coverage in the area and boost the service to customers using the West Coast Mainline train service.

Little Stoke runs a variety of teams in local leagues, some as young as under 11.

O2 warned this week that if councillors follow officers' recommendations to refuse permission for the mast, then the company would continue to push for other sites nearby.

Regional spokesman for O2 James Stevenson, said: "That's a good place we are trying to keep the network going but it is a bit of a black hole.

"We spoke to the planners about this one they said they could not see any difficulties with the site we had picked.

"It is surprising that they have come back and said they don't want it.

"Even if this is refused we will continue to look in this area."

An amended plan is also due to be submitted by O2 which would see the mast increased by 50cms to account for signal disruption by nearby trees.

The application has sparked anger among residents nearly 60 people have lodged objections with Stafford Borough Council.

One of the residents even enlisted the professional expertise of a solicitor.

Residents said the mast, in Uttoxeter Road, would be visually intrusive, too close to properties and expressed concerns at the cricket club's involvement.

Mr Stevenson added: "We understand how people feel about it.

"We would come and see them (the residents ) if they wanted.

"It is an area we have got to get up and running.

"The network up there is not robust enough at the moment."

Two other nearby sites had been considered High Street and Stone Cricket Club but Little Stoke was considered the best by O2.

The mast would be sited on a rise which has prevented an application being submitted for a 15m tower further towards Stone.

In deciding to recommend refusal, planning officers said there was not enough evidence that the required coverage could not be achieved in a less visually intrusive manner.

Officers also claimed that the mast would be harmful to the amenities of the surrounding area.

The application will be discussed next Wednesday (June 7) by Stafford Borough Council's planning committee.

© Express & Star Ltd, 1997-2006


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