CAMPAIGNERS are still hoping to prevent a giant mobile phone mast being sited on a picturesque Wollescote cricket pitch despite planning permissions being granted.

An application, submitted to Dudley Council, to site the 5G 22.5-metre mobile phone mast on Wollescote Road cricket pitch was approved under delegated powers on May 27.

But the Ernest Stevens Trusts Management Committee, which manages the cricket pitch and neighbouring Wollescote Hall, has voted against allowing telecommunications company Cornerstone to use the land.

At a special meeting on September 27 the committee declined consent to enter into a lease agreement with the telecoms company as it would be a breach of a Deed of Gift and of the Charities Act 2011.

It was agreed that Dudley Council would write to the company outlining the committee’s position but it’s understood that no response has yet been received from Cornerstone which wants to site the mast in that location to provide 5G mobile phone coverage.

Councillor Tim Crumpton said: “The land is held in trust and the Ernest Stevens Trusts Management Committee has a number of restraints in place to ensure the land is used for leisure and the benefit advancement and welfare of the people of Lye and Wollescote; it is quite specific that no part of the land shall be sub-let, or any buildings erected other than for example pavilions or shelters.

“There are a number of other spots within 50 to 100 yards of the proposed site that could easily be used to place the mast and the associated buildings.”

Cllr Crumpton said, however, that as the relevant permission has already been granted for the mast to be sited on the land it “may result in a very costly battle”.

Julia Marks, chairperson of the Friends of the park group, was pleased the committee voted against agreeing to use of the site but she added: “I do not believe the trust will take on a legal fight to protect the park. I am worried Wollescote Park will end up with the equivalent of a wind farm of 5G masts, as this mast will only enable 5G for those subscribed to a specific provider.”

Stourbridge News: Campaigners by a banner on the fence of Wollescote Cricket Pitch, with Cllr Tim Crumpton in the foregroundCampaigners by a banner on the fence of Wollescote Cricket Pitch, with Cllr Tim Crumpton in the foreground (Image: Cllr Tim Crumpton)

The Friends had sited a banner on the cricket pitch perimeter fence to raise awareness of the situation but the council ordered it be removed.

Members were left hugely frustrated and Julia said: “It’s disgraceful that park volunteers’ voices have been silenced with the removal of the banner. Locally many people do not realise this mast is going in the park and others have expressed grave concerns that land gifted to the community and left in trust is not being protected.”

Dudley Council confirmed a letter was sent to the telecoms company in September outlining the committee’s position and a spokesperson added: “I can confirm we have written on behalf of the trust to the phone mast company and are waiting for their response.”

Cornerstone declined to comment – other than to say it has permission to develop a mobile phone base station on the cricket pitch “to provide customers with essential network connectivity and enhanced network capacity in the area”.

The company’s spokesperson said: “We have worked closely with the local planning authority to ensure the location of this infrastructure minimises local impact whilst also enabling quality digital connectivity to the communities we serve.”