'We're not giving up'

PLAYGROUP'S fight against a mobile phone mast appears to have been lost, with the company admitting it is not concerned about residents' health fears.

In June, the Banbury Guardian reported that Drayton Playgroup could be forced to close as a result of O2's plans, with parents worried a nearby mast could increase the risk of cancer and leukaemia in their young children.

This week O2 communication manager Jim Stevenson said: "We took the decision last Wednesday and it is definitely going ahead now."

Commenting on parents' health fears, he added: "It's not something we really concern ourselves too much with. There have been a lot of studies done on mobile phone mast emmisions and they have found nothing at all that does any harm. But we will keep an eye on that."

Omega this is not true. See under:

Parents, residents and Banbury MP Tony Baldry have all opposed the mast being so near a playgroup and Drayton School.

Playgroup supervisor and parent Diane Bates said she thought worried parents may start removing their children from the popular 20-year-old group.

"I'm worried about it; they shouldn't be putting our children at risk.

"02 claims it sent us a letter about the plans but we never received it and they never followed it up in any way.

"We will have to wait until September now to find out if people will remove their children or not."

She said she would probably cancel her own mobile contract with O2.

The 15metre-high mast is due to be put up within the next month and will be disguised as a telegraph pole and shared between O2 and Hutchison 3G.

It is being located on Oxfordshire County Council-owned land next to Trinity Close and is O2's second attempt to site a mast in the area, after it abandoned similar attempts last year at the junction of Stratford and Warwick Road following a public outcry.

Mr Stevenson said: "There were some alternative site options in Banbury but owners refused us permission to site the mast on their land.

"We have tried quite hard to make sure everyone knows what we are doing."

But the playgroup and residents believe the company's failure to communicate properly with local people could void its application.

They are now taking legal advice on whether they can still stop the mast being put up.

O2's planning application was approved by Cherwell District Council, but the authority can only object to masts of up to 15m high on siting and appearance and not on health grounds.

Protester Mary Jenvey said: "We do not want to give up when the mast has not been sited yet."

24 August 2006

All rights reserved © 2006 Johnston Press Digital Publishing.



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