Parents fight phone mast plan

Parents at a small village school are fighting plans to put up a phone mast nearby.Mobile phone operator T-Mobile wants to put a 40ft mast, disguised as a telephone pole, in the centre of Barnby, near Beccles.

Parents at a small village school are fighting plans to put up a phone mast nearby.

Mobile phone operator T-Mobile wants to put a 40ft mast, disguised as a telephone pole, in the centre of Barnby, near Beccles. But parents are unhappy that it will be near to Barnby and North Cove primary school, and will also tower over the village's war memorial.

About 20 parents turned out to a meeting held at the school to discuss the plan, and every one said the mast should not be built. The school's governing body has now written to Waveney District Council to object.

Theresa Robinson, the school's chair of governors, said: “I have had several parents phone me individually and we held a meeting on Friday, at which every parent was against it. I have written to the council on behalf of the governing body to say that we object to it.

“My personal view is that the evidence is not there to say that it is a definite hazard but neither is it there to say it is perfectly safe. More research is needed.

“The parents also felt it is a risk to road safety. It is located by a junction known as Fiveways, which is already hazardous. A structure of that height could distract drivers.

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The school community felt it was too close to the war memorial and would tower over it. It would distract from the memorial and could be regarded as disrespectful.

“But their major concern was for the health of their children.”

Adam Gill, whose daughters Rebecca, seven, and Eloise, five, attend the school, said: “We are concerned that it is opposite the war memorial and near the school. The health risks are not proven, but years ago people didn't realise the health risks of smoking. We feel there are a lot of other places it could go, it does not need to be next to the school.”

T-Mobile is currently putting in a raft of applications for new masts in order to provide 3G phone coverage, which will mean that people can watch television and video over their phones. It has also submitted an application for a mast on a floodlight pole at the Bungay Sports Association ground in Ditchingham, which is also attracting protests.

The company says its 3G licence requires it to cover 80pc of the population by this year, and that it needs to put up a mast in Barnby to cover the village. It has considered St Botolph's church and the Methodist Church, but says they are not tall enough. The Three Horseshoes pub has refused to host the mast, and the Swan Inn has not replied to letters from T-Mobile.

A statement from T-Mobile says that a government study has found no health risks from the technology. It says: “The proposal has no material impact upon the character and appearance of the area, nor the amenity of any nearby surrounding residential areas.”