CRICKLADE residents are furious about plans for a 12-metre high mobile phone mast.

They say a blunder by North Wiltshire District Council will allow T-Mobile to erect the mast at the entrance to the town off the A419 and near the Hannick Homes estate.

About £4,000 has been spent and hundreds of hours put in by the Cricklade in Bloom group to enhance the area to create a pleasant welcome to residents and visitors of the town.

But councillors failed to reject a planning application for the mast by default - allowing 56 days to pass despite more than 60 objections from locals.

More than 500 residents, who are deeply unhappy with the situation, have already signed a petition. They support the phone mast, but not in its current planned location.

Bob Jones, 68, chairman of Cricklade Business Association, said: "The error has not been made by T-Mobile but by North Wiltshire District Council.

"The law is entirely on the phone company's side and we just hope they will see good sense and move it elsewhere."

The grass by the town's entrance has already been dug up and the bulbs planted last year have been removed.

The hedge has been cut down in preparation for the work to erect the mast, which residents say will be a blot on the landscape.

"It's the council who failed in the planning process and this needs to be addressed," Mr Jones said.

Anita Barratt, 52, chairwoman of Cricklade in Bloom, said: "We want to make it clear we are not against T-Mobile's mast but its location. We think another site can be found just up the road.

"If it goes ahead it will spoil all the hard work we've put in.

"Not only that, it will endanger bio-diversity."

The phone company has already suspended work for a 14-day period, with work due to begin on Wednesday.

Cricklade Town Council is working hard to resolve the matter alongside the residents.

Town Crier Chris Atkins said: "We're the finest Saxon town in Britain so it is our duty to keep Cricklade looking as attractive as possible.

"Common sense should prevail until we can find a proper resolution."

A spokeswoman for North Wiltshire District Council hit back, saying: "A flood assessment was submitted when it wasn't required. By the time it was realised it wasn't needed the 56 days had passed.

"Unfortunately we misread this legislation and are now working closely with Cricklade Town Council and hoping for a positive outcome.

"We are working hard to find a solution with alternative sites a possibility about 100 yards up the road, and are hoping T-Mobile will be encouraged to look at these other sites."

T-Mobile was unavailable for comment..

A public meeting was held on Friday with 40 locals voicing their concerns. Another meeting was scheduled at Cricklade Town Council's offices. North Wiltshire District Council, T-Mobile and Cricklade Town council will sit down together next week to discuss possible alternative locations.