Southwark residents puzzled at 18m-tall telecoms tower installed outside homes with two days’ warning

By Robert Firth, Local Democracy Reporter

Puzzled residents have hit out after workmen plonked an 18m-tall phone mast in front of their homes.

The telecommunications tower was put up next to a children’s playground on the Friary estate in Southwark over a weekend in October.

Locals claim they received letters informing them about plans by mobile operators EE and Three to install the temporary mast just two days before workers started to construct it.

The letter told residents the mast would provide coverage while a permanent mast nearby was replaced.

But locals say they had suffered a bad phone signal ever since it appeared, with one woman forced to make calls in her bathroom as it was the only place she could get reception.

Eve Irez, whose first-floor flat on the neighbouring Ledbury estate looks out on the mast, said: “No one asked us about it.

“No one asked us if it was going to worry us. One of the guys working on it said it gives out radiation but only goes upwards. What’s that supposed to mean?”

The 76-year-old added: “The kids used to play football there and people had picnics and barbecues out there in the summer.

“Since it was put up my phone signal keeps cutting off and my TV goes off sometimes and goes fuzzy.”

Cllr Richard Livingstone, Labour member for the Old Kent Road, said: “Frankly, I’m disgusted that the law of this land seems to put the rights of phone companies above the rights of council tenants to open space on their estates.

“Tenants on the Friary estate don’t have their own gardens and so this area is their garden.”

A Three spokeswoman said: “Connectivity is vital for people and businesses in Southwark.

“We are in the process of replacing an existing site and this temporary site is essential to maintaining network coverage for customers.

“The site will be removed once a replacement is confirmed – and in the meantime, we hope to keep disruption to residents to a minimum.”

The contractor which put up the mast has been asked for a response.

EE has also been contacted for comment.

Pictured top: Phone mast on the Friary estate in Peckham (Picture: Robert Firth)

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