CONCERNED parents are backing a petition against a mobile phone mast being planned for a town near York.

At the beginning of this month, residents and business owners around Oak Tree Lane, in Haxby, received a letter sent on behalf of phone giants Vodafone, informing them the mobile operator wanted to install a ten-metre tall mast in the street.

Joanne Smith, 39, and her brother, Richard Boddy, 27, who run the Londis shop in Oak Tree Lane, were so concerned about having the mast less than ten metres from their front door that they started a petition against it.

Joanne said she had health concerns about the mast, which would be less than 200 metres from Headlands Primary School.

She said children from the school often congregated in the pavement area outside the shop where Vodafone want to put its mast.

Joanne said her brother Richard lived above the shop and would have the telecommunications device right outside his bedroom window.

Husband Tony Smith, 40, said hundreds of locals – many with children at Headlands – had been into the shop and signed the petition. He said Richard had collected more signatures going door-to-door in the village.

“A lot of people are on the same wavelength as us,” he said. “It’s not the fact there’s a mast, it’s the position of it. A lot of people are concerned about the health implications.”

He said the mast and two control boxes proposed for the site would cause an obstruction on the busy pavement, with the shop and bus stops both nearby.

Tony said the petition had now been sent to Tyco Electronics, the company which sent out the original consultation letters on behalf of Vodafone.

In that letter, Jodie Kane said the mast was needed because of an “urgent need to address the present coverage deficits being experienced within this cell area”.

She said: “While we appreciate the proposed development site is located within a dense residential area, due to the very specific and localised coverage deficit that Vodafone are experiencing, this cannot be avoided.”

A spokesman for the telecoms giant said the proposed radio base station was required to improve 3G coverage to its customers in the area.

He said: “This location was chosen as it provides a backdrop of street furniture, against which the proposed street pole will not be visually intrusive. We recognise that some communities are concerned regarding the deployment of radio base stations. All of our base stations are designed, built and operated in accordance with stringent international guidelines.”