Phone mast protestors block road

By Marcus Dysch

Police moved angry campaigners who tried to block a road to stop a mobile phone mast being built near a Barnet road.

Residents tried to blockade the area, in Stanhope Road Open Space, Chesterfield Road, to stop telephone company O2 erecting the six-metre high mast on Friday.

Last month, workmen were first forced to leave the site after people came out of their homes and blocked access to the street.

Following that incident, Barnet Council held a meeting with O2 in an attempt to stop the company using Chesterfield Road, but planning permission was granted by default after the authority missed a deadline to respond to the company's application by one day.

On Friday, residents again blocked workers' way and police moved the protestors after a Barnet Council representative confirmed the company did have permission to carry out the work. No arrests were made.

Protestor Debra Barker said: "We should have been notified and given a letter. The council did not act on our behalf and has let us down.

"We will not obstruct it again physically, but we will go down the legal route.

"We will make a claim against the council and O2 to get the mast taken down, or compensation."

A council spokesman said alternate sites for the mast had been discussed but no agreement had been reached.

He said: "We are extremely disappointed that O2 has returned to Chesterfield Road.

"The company is aware of our opposition as well as the considerable public concern in the area. Alternatives included a site only 700 metres from Chesterfield Road where the same company already has valid permission. Another mast is in place at Partridge Close, off Mays Lane, which is even closer to the Chesterfield Road site."

James Stevenson, O2 community relation officer, said: "We put up fences around the site on Friday and laid some concrete.

"The planner from the council came along and told the police we did have planning permission.

"I met with council officers and they told me of the alternative sites.

"When I met them the second time they did not come up with any alternatives. If they had we would have looked at them."

Mr Stevenson confirmed the mast would be erected within the next week to 10 days.

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