FRUSTRATED councillors have suggested hiring lawyers after getting what they said was an arrogant demand from Vodafone asking for access to an allotment site.

The mobile phone giant contacted South Swindon Parish Council in June for consent to lay wires up to a telecoms mast on allotments off Pipers Way.

When the parish council clerk asked for more details of the proposed works, Vodafone said that their rent payments on the leasehold land were up to date and the council as landlord was “obliged to enter into consent agreements within 28 days of receipt”.

But parish councillors and the clerk were unhappy, saying the email came out of the blue and that work is already being carried out at the site by telecoms firm Arqiva.

Chris Watts, chairman of the parish council, said it would be worth seeking legal advice.

Coun Neil Hopkins, chairman of the leisure and amenities committee, added: “Reading the email from Vodafone it’s quite arrogant. It seemed to suggest they could do whatever they liked with impunity and we could do nothing about it.”

The terms of the original lease on the land upon which the telephone mast sits was arranged by Swindon Borough Council, with the allotments site later transferred to the parish council.

Coun Hopkins said: “I’m quite certain whoever was dealing with this at Swindon Borough Council would have given them some standard terms.

"I doubt they can do whatever they like with impunity and I think we need to point that out to them.

“The arrogance displayed in the note was quite unacceptable. The amount we get in terms of the rental for these facilities are not very great. It would cause use no problems whatsoever as a parish not to have the masts.

He said: “We do have a bit of power as a parish and I think we should give the clerk the authority to exercise what power we have, with the appropriate legal advice, to bring them into line and to make sure that if they commit to paying they pay and if they don’t pay they don’t get access until they do pay.”

But there was laughter when Coun Hopkins suggested the parish could change the access arrangements to the site, potentially meaning the clerk was “knocked up in the middle of the night” by workmen asking for the allotment site key.

He then explained: “I mean, she does not have someone knocking on her door at 2 o’clock in the morning to get access to the site.”

A Vodafone spokeswoman said: “This proposal is to bring fibre to an existing site. All development will be underground and when complete there will be no impact on the allotment users.

These essential improvements will bring benefits to individual customers and to businesses locally.

“We are at the start of the process which is why we are consulting with the parish council and we are very happy to discuss the detail with them.

Our records show that rental payments are up to date but again, we are more than happy to go over this with them.”