Phone mast protesters driven away

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CAMPAIGNERS opposing the siting of a mobile phone mast at Hadrian Park in Wallsend had to give in this week and allow work to get under way.

A 3G mast is being installed in Addington Drive to the dismay of many residents there concerned about the possible impact it could have on their health and on the landscape.

In a bid to stop contractors putting the mast up, residents have, for months, been parking their cars on the grass verge it is to be located on, but on Monday they were forced to move their vehicles or risk having them towed away by police.

Plans for the mast submitted by mobile phone companies O2 and Vodafone were rejected in May last year, but that decision was later overturned by the Planning Inspectorate.

Former Battle Hill councillor Chris Croft said the council and police had let residents down by moving them on so contractors could get on with their work.

A council spokesperson said: “In May 2011, North Tyneside Council’s planning committee refused planning application for this work.

“The applicant appealed to the Planning Inspectorate, who subsequently overturned the planning committee’s decision, and granted planning permission.”

Inspector Kev Benson, of Wallsend police, said: “Once the developers start to build on the land, anyone parking on the land will be causing an unnecessary obstruction and, as such, breaching the law.

“Residents have been informed of this by their local officers to ensure they are aware of the situation, and the possible consequences, and have been advised that it is our duty to enforce the law and they risk receiving a ticket if they breach restrictions.

“As ever, we are keen to work closely with the community to resolve any issues and discuss any concerns they may have about parking issues in the area.”

The mobile phone firms say the mast will improve 3G reception for North Tynesiders.