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lady from Wellington Avenue called me yesterday with a disturbing
story of a total cock up by Bexley Council, although she believed corruption was not impossible.
Her complaint was about a phone mast which has been put up opposite her house. I didn’t know where Wellington Avenue was but a good old fashioned map put that right and I drove over to take a look.
It was only when I got to Blackfen that I remembered I hadn’t asked where the Vodafone mast was and Wellington Avenue is a long road. However I had no need to worry, the mast stood out like a big and ugly sore thumb.
As I put my camera to work two residents ‘jumped’ on me asking if I was for or against it. How can anyone be for a monstrosity like that I replied.
How did Bexley approve it?
Well strictly speaking they didn’t!
My correspondent said it went before the planning Committee last November with a recommendation by planning officers to approve it. However the Committee said it was a poor application and obscured the view of a historic World War II bomb shelter. (Photo 3) Councillors refused the application and the objectors and local residents went home from the meeting happy and relaxed for the first time since the application was submitted the previous September.
And then the cheap and nasty pole, without a hint of any camouflage in evidence, and to the surprise of everyone, made an unwelcome appearance complete with a very large equipment box.
How could things possibly get to that stage after its rejection?
The answer varies depending on who Bexley Council gets to manufacture the excuses. One answer was that Vodafone appealed the decision in which case shouldn’t residents have been told. All of them insist that Bexley Council kept everything totally quiet.
Never before - according to local residents who have been fighting masts for the past ten years - has Bexley ever approved a phone mast on its land. It’s why some residents are talking about corruption and dirty deals.
Another story is that Bexley Council sat on the application for so long that it went through by default. I wouldn’t be surprised if that was true. Bexley’s Planning Committee is horribly inefficient but refuses to contemplate improving it - and that comes from the horse’s mouth so to speak.
Committee procedures must be inefficient. The mast is up and running while Bexley’s Planning portal is still saying a decision is awaited.
It’s a scandalous situation if inefficiency - I’m not sure I believe the corruption theory - has been allowed to blight residents’ lives. The possible adverse health effects of phone masts are still a big worry to many, especially to parents of young children.
The people I met there are to say the least pretty mad about Bexley Council letting them down and no amount of compensation will satisfy them. They are looking for a reversal, nothing less and who can blame them?
The cabinet will probably get used as a public urinal, it’s more than big enough.
There is an interesting historical report on Bexley Council’s attitude to mobile phones on the Barnehurst based website, Name ‘n’ Shame. Councillor John Waters (Conservative, Danson Park) makes some particularly interesting, some might say utterly stupid, comments.