Opposition rallies to fight off mast

By Linda Piper

PLANS to install the first mobile phone mast on the roof of a house in the borough are facing mass protests from residents.

Nearly 150 people turned out at a public meeting in Erith to hear the facts about the proposal and to put together a plan of action.

Hutchison 3G has applied to Bexley Council to put three antennas and two dishes on the top of 173 Park Crescent, Erith.

The house, formerly Riversfield Manor, was built in 1860 and is now divided into rented flats.

The proposal is to conceal the equipment in a false fibreglass spire, which could be up to five metres high, on the top of the house.

The rest of the equipment required for the mast would be housed in the loft.

Last week's packed protest meeting, held in Christ Church School, Lesney Park Road, heard the owner of the house had struck a deal with the mobile phone company and was likely to receive around £8,000 a year for the use of the roof if the mast is given planning permission.

A number of the people at the meeting were parents of children at nearby schools, who were angry they had not been notified of the plans until after they had broken up for the summer holidays.

Many people suspect the company deliberately delayed the application so it would have to be decided during the school holidays, when mass protests from Christ Church and St Fidelis primary schools and Erith School would be almost impossible to organise.

Residents had the support of both Labour and Conservative councillors who attended the meeting and Erith and Thamemead MP John Austin who urged people to write individual letters of protest.

People fear if the mast is given the green light, it could open the floodgates to other people who want to supplement their income, offering their homes as sites for phone masts.

The proposal will go to Bexley's planning control committee on August 31 and the council has said it will take into account any comments received up to August 28.

The residents plan to put up speakers at the planning meeting and to turn up en masse to show the strength of feeling against the plan.

The planning control meeting is open to the public and will be held in the council chamber at the civic offices in Bexleyheath Broadway at 7.30pm.

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