CONCERNED residents of Sheriff Hutton have won a battle in their year-long fight to have a controversial mobile phone mast shifted out of their village.

Ryedale District Council's policy and resources committee agreed the authority should fund the move - believed to cost in the region of £50,000 - because it was a council bungle that caused the problem.

Council officials sent their legal objections to phone giant Orange one day too late. The mast was duly built unopposed. However, it has never been switched on, and Sheriff Hutton residents have campaigned fiercely to get it relocated.

Now, at a council meeting, councillors have voted five to three to finance the cost of moving the mast - subject to it being "reasonable".

Campaigners said the vote was "a huge step forward", but the decision must still be backed by the entire council on November 9.

Coun Keith Knaggs told the meeting: "What value do we attach to our honesty and putting right our mistakes? We must pay the price to defend our reputation."

Coun John Clark went one step further. He said: "I am opposed to all masts because of the unknown threat to our health."

After the meeting, Sheriff Hutton resident and prominent campaigner Linda Murphy told The Press: "We are over the moon at this vote. The mast has really taken over our lives this last year. Councillors at the meeting said the council had betrayed our trust. Now I hope they will finally vote once and for all to make amends."

In July, The Press reported how Mrs Murphy invited councillors into her daughter's bedroom to see from the window how close the mast was to her Cornborough Road home.

She said: "Of course, it's not over yet. We are not popping the champagne corks, because a suitable place still has to be found and we don't want it in anyone else's backyard either - but this is a huge step forward. If we had sat back, and not campaigned so hard, the mast would be switched on by now. These protests have been driven by the strength of feeling in the community. It all shows that people power really does work. The next full council meeting will be crucial and, hopefully, as many people from Sheriff Hutton as possible will be there to see the mast overturned."