PLANS to erect a mobile phone mast near homes in Woodhall Park have been refused.

T-Mobile had applied for early approval to put up the three-antenna mast and associated equipment on the footbridge over Westfield Way.

Yesterday Swindon Council officers rejected the plans and Moredon councillor Colin Lovell has said he is starting a campaign to get mobile phone mast legislation changed.

Resident Terry Giles thanked residents, ward councillors and North Swindon MP Michael Wills.

"It is great news that the mast has been stopped at this stage and that the planning department have applied common sense and responded to the health fears raised by residents," said the father-of-two.

Coun Lovell (Con, More-don) is now launching a campaign for a change in the law in relation to phone masts.

"My colleagues and I are very pleased that the council has refused planning permission for this mast and have listened to the residents of Moredon," he said.

"Michael Wills and all three ward councillors have been very supportive of residents throughout.

"I would like to thank all the residents who wrote in to the council asking for the application to be refused.

"More than a dozen householders sent in protests, which proved decisive in the planning decision, and these made a big difference to the final outcome."

He said that the current legislation allows mobile phone companies to site masts almost anywhere they like. Local councils can refuse permission, but companies can appeal and the law favours them in these situations.

And he said that T-Mobile could appeal against yesterday's decision.

"I am meeting with a representative from T-Mobile next week to start a dialogue and try to discover what their future intentions are," said Coun Lovell.

"I'd like to see the legislation changed so that the Government Inspectorate do not have the final decision on the matter but the council does.

"We could have recommendations from the Government Inspectorate but the final say must be with the democratically elected council.

"I am lobbying for a policy document that gives council power at the appeal stage."

Mr Wills helped residents campaign against the mast by setting up a petition on his website.

"I am very pleased the council has turned this around," he said.

He added that he would be willing to look over any detailed proposals presented by Coun Lovell.

"I think it is very important that these things always require a balance in the interests of residents, phone users and telecommunication businesses," he said.

"And Swindon has a lot of jobs in telecommunications."

Mr Wills said that legislation was continuously being reviewed and that he had successfully challenged companies in the past.

"I got the O2 mast in Akers Way moved, but I would be happy to look at any detailed proposals Coun Lovell comes up with."