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Council admits "cock-up" over mobile phone mast
United Kingdom Created: 21 Nov 2017
A SENIOR Wiltshire councillor has apologised after a "cock-up" allowed work to start on a mobile phone mast in Woodfalls - despite planning permission having been refused.

Work began on the mast in Ridge Farm near Highfield Lane last month, to the surprise of residents.

The council had refused the plans but failed to inform Vodafone within the allotted 56 days so, permission was deemed to be granted.

Cabinet member for planning Toby Sturgis spoke to residents at a meeting of Redlynch Parish Council on November 14.

He said: "Yes, to put it bluntly, we did cock this one up."

Cllr Sturgis said the council had met the firm at the site and told it the mast was too big and its base was in the wrong place.

Vodafone had redesigned the mast to be slimmer, he said, but he could not give an exact height.

Cllr Sturgis said there was "going to be a mast anyway" and the council was trying to get the best design.

Sarah Barnard, whose family have a property near the mast and had lost a sell as a result of the mast, said she was "incredibly angry".

"It is disgraceful that Wiltshire Council have not only made a fatal mistake, in a time critical, bog-standard planning application but is standing in front of us trying to say it is not worth fighting it," she said.

Cllr Sturgis said even if the refusal had been submitted on time, an inspector could have overruled the council on appeal.

Miss Barnard asked whether the council would compensate affected landowners.

Cllr Sturgis said this had not happened before.

Resident John Kent called for local people to be involved with negotiations with Vodafone instead of it being done “behind closed doors”.

Cllr Sturgis said there could be no enforcement action during negotiations, but residents would be consulted on any new plans.

He said: “If they put the mast up on the pad as it is we will serve an enforcement notice. Then they have the choice of taking it down. At the moment they haven’t put it up as I understand it.”

Redlynch Parish Council agreed to collate alternative sites for Wiltshire Council to put forward to Vodafone.
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Source: Salisbury Journal, Katy Griffin, 21 Nov 2017

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