an angry councillor has slammed the companies behind plans for mobile phone masts in Belper in a new twist to the controversial saga.

Amber Valley borough councillor Peter Makin, who is also a Derbyshire county councillor, has rubbished claims from a representative of O2 that councillors and residents did not respond to letters telling them about the proposals.

Many residents have been up in arms at plans to erect 13.8-metre-high 3G mobile phone masts around Belper.

One of their main gripes is that they claim they have been completely bypassed in the consultation process by Higham & Co, the agents acting on behalf of Vodafone and O2.

The mobile phone giants want to improve 3G coverage in Belper, which they say is currently almost non-existent.

Jim Stevenson, of O2, claimed in last week’s Belper News that the proper protocol had been followed by Highams and that no responses had been received from councillors, residents or the school.

But Cllr Makin, who spoke out strongly against the erection of a mast at the junction of Marsh Lane and Laund Nook when it went before the borough council’s planning board, said: “After reading Jim Stevenson’s comments, I thought the facts should be published.

“When this application was first promoted I contacted Highams to suggest an alternative site, such as the hill overlooking Far Laund, where there is already a mast.

“The company came back to state that as the proposed mast was low-powered, the site would be too far away to be of any use.”

Cllr Makin also cited a meeting with residents on February 8, where another site was suggested.

He said: “It was decided to suggest Coronation Gardens as it was much nearer, was not used as a play area, and was in direct line with Marsh Lane.

“Highams did not reply, even after several phone calls, but they had contacted borough council officers to state that the height of the trees would interfere with the signals.

“As St John’s Primary School had expressed no comments, the planning board had no option but to allow the application, but with reluctance.”

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