It's the community's call as vicar rejects £10,000 mast plan

BY SOPHIE HAZAN

A LEEDS vicar has turned down a mobile phone company's £10,000 proposal to install a mast in his church bell tower.

Vicar Brunel James, of All Saints Church in Barwick-in-Elmet, shunned the lucrative scheme in a bid to unite his congregation.

The project had become a bone of contention among parishioners in the north Leeds village, who were aware that the money could be put to good use in the refurbishment of the church.

Health concerns were at the root of the concerns which had left many residents uneasy.

In a letter addressing his parish, the reverend tried to allay the fears. He said: "It remains our opinion that there is no evidence that the positioning of the O2 antennae and base station in the church tower would put the health of villagers at risk. However, we have been surprised by the strength of feeling against the O2 proposal.

"We respect and endorse the fact that people need to enjoy their homes and family life free from worry.

"There will be no antennae or base station in the church tower."

Rev James added: "This is an area for bad reception for networks.

"The more people use phones the more base stations they need as each can only handle a certain amount of calls.

"The church tower was desirable as it would have concealed the mast so it isn't a blot on the landscape."

But Rev James is now in a tight spot as essential repairs are still needed on the Grade II place of worship.

Ceiling repairs and interior redecoration are urgently required and there are plans to improve children's facilities by refurbishing several smaller rooms in the bell tower and to open All Saints each day of the week.

Rev James told the YEP: "We take an optimistic view of things and plan to start work here at the church in autumn 2007.

"One good thing has come out of all of this and that is a new group – Friends of All Saints – who have pledged to give regularly to our funds."

To support the refurbishment, write to Klaus Schottler, secretary of Friends of All Saints Church, c/o The Rectory, Main Street, Barwick-in-Elmet LS15 4JQ.

sophie.hazan@ypn.co.uk

10 October 2006

All rights reserved © 2006 Johnston Press Digital Publishing.

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