Row over church transmistter

AN unholy row today erupted over a decision rent out a Suffolk church so mobile phone company Orange can erect a mast.The antenna, which is under construction at All Hallows Church in Reynolds Road, Ipswich, has prompted fierce criticism from those nearby who believe it is not the way to spread God's message.

AN unholy row today erupted over a decision rent out a Suffolk church so mobile phone company Orange can erect a mast.

The antenna, which is under construction at All Hallows Church in Reynolds Road, Ipswich, has prompted fierce criticism from those nearby who believe it is not the way to spread God's message.

However the vicar of the church has said the money the mast will generate could help provide the finance to keep the church going.

Orange is paying a £6,000 rental fee for the mast, of which £1,500 will go directly to All Hallows – the rest will go to the diocese.

However pensioner William Curtis, 81, who lives opposite the church on Landseer Road said: "I don't think it is right to have a mobile phone mast in a sacred place.

"It was said that this has been going on for two years but none of the residents here have been notified.

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"Work has been going on for about three weeks to one month. I had thought that they were building an extension on the back of the church, but it was to do with this.

"The first I heard about it was about three weeks ago. I spoke to the vicar and asked her what was going on. She said a mobile phone mast was going up and it would be good for the church because of money. But she will be leaving on the 28th.

"None of the residents agree. People are hoping to set up a petition if nothing is done about it."

Mr Curtis, who has lived in Landseer Road for 50 years, added he also worried about potential health risks.

Mobile phone company, Orange, was granted planning permission for the mast two years ago. But work has only just started on the mast, which will be incorporated into the church.

Rev Christine Garrard, who is moving to Stratford St Mary later in the month, said work is not yet complete and once it is people wouldn't know the mast was there.

"It is unsightly because the work isn't complete yet. It will be disguised. A shroud will be put over the aerials so it will look like part of the pole holding the cross on top."

She continued: "We are not a wealthy church and they are paying a rental fee which was part of our consideration.

"The only purpose of this church is to serve the people in the parish and we have to have means of doing that. Not being wealthy parish it is difficult to keep going at all."

She added that petitions had been placed around the parish telling people what was happening.

"I am sad that people are worrying now when they have had the last two years when the public process has been going through. This has been well publicised right the way through and there have been public notices going up."

The mobile phone sector is continuing to grow. It is estimated the four main operators now have together over 40 million users.

The recent sale of new generation licences raised £22.5 billion from the companies but it is expected to mean 60,000 to 100,000 new masts.

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