School phone mast U-turn

28 June 2006

MOBILE phone company O2 have denied bowing to people pressure after cancelling plans for a mobile phone mast near a Muswell Hill School.

The mast - which was due to go up in Woodside Avenue near St James's Primary School - was bitterly opposed by the school and by residents.

A protest, followed by a public consultation, was due to go ahead outside the Royal British Legion, in Muswell Hill Road, last week but was cancelled when the mobile phone company withdrew the application.

Nurses, teachers, children and residents were able to put their placards away - overjoyed at the news, claiming a victory for people power.

Sarah Purdy, of Muswell Hill Against the Masts, said: "This shows what can happen when large numbers of people make their objections known.

"Our supporters have been e-mailing and writing to O2 threatening to stage a massive campaign against the mast and it has deterred them.

"I would urge everyone to keep up the pressure on mobile phone companies who will continue to pick sites for masts near schools and nurseries."

But representatives from O2 claimed a better site had been found on top of the Muswell Hill telephone exchange, in Grand Avenue, and had decided to move the mast there.

A spokesman said: "We did write to residents and said we would come and see you. Nobody in the area came back to us.

"We wanted to explain what we were doing. They didn't want to know. They wanted to conduct it through the papers.

"We found a better option. We hope we will get full support from the planning authority."

Muswell Hill Against the Masts, an anti-mobile phone mast pressure group, was formed last year in response to a Vodaphone plan to site a mast on top of the old telephone exchange on Grand Avenue - near several schools.

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