RESIDENTS of a York suburb have reacted angrily to news that a controversial mobile phone mast is to stay on their doorsteps.

The residents had hoped that the mast, in Shipton Road, Rawcliffe, could be moved from outside the allotments to the nearby Rawcliffe Bar Park&Ride site, and meetings had been held between the mobile phone company involved and City of York Council to discuss the mast's possible relocation.

But the mobile phone company, T-mobile, said the 12-metre (39 foot) mast was staying put.

It was built after a planning department blunder, despite planning permission actually being refused and a strong local campaign being organised against it.

A T-mobile spokesman said: "The (Park&Ride) site did not reach the levels of coverage or capacity required."

Dorothy Croft, who has lived in Shipton Road with her husband, Jack, for 13 years, said: "Somebody should have been fired for this, it is ridiculous. It doesn't surprise me that they are keeping it there, but it makes me angry."

Neighbour Joe Pickering, a former Rawcliffe parish councillor, said: "We are stuck with the damn thing. It is irritating and it is annoying, especially to think they can work the system this way."

Despite the residents' anger, they do not plan to pursue their complaint with the Local Government Ombudsman in the hope of getting compensation.

A group of Swindon residents won £117,000 compensation after going to the Ombudsman with a near-identical case.

Mr Pickering said: "I have spoken to the Ombudsman's office and was given forms to fill in, but am not going to follow it up.

"I do not feel they would find there was any maladministration. I do not have a mobile phone, but if I get one it certainly won't be a T-mobile."

The mast was built after a staff member in the council's planning department failed to send paperwork off until after the 56-day deadline had expired.

That meant T-mobile could build the mast regardless of the planning authority's decision.

Ward councillor Mark Waudby said he would support the residents if they went to the Ombudsman, but added: "I can understand their reticence. There can be a feeling going to the Ombudsman can be a long drawn out process with no guarantee of success. This case is a warning to all to be vigilant with these applications in future."

The Local Government Ombudsman investigates complaints from residents about local authorities.

Updated: 09:27 Wednesday, May 21, 2003