RESIDENTS, a charity and a community partnership are objecting to a 20 metre mobile phone mast being erected near their homes.

Telefonica O2 UK Ltd has applied to install a variety of equipment in Steeplejack Way, in the Borough Road area of Darlington.

However, a number of residents have formed their own network to object to the phone company's plans.

The joint plans by O2 and Vodafone include a tower, three second-generation and three third-generation antennae, transmission dishes, cabinets and a fencing compound.

Objections submitted to Darlington Borough Council's planning department include from members of the Central Community Partnership and the YMCA charity.

They are worried about health concerns, the proximity of such a high mast to homes and buildings, and phone interference.

They also pointed to a similar application in Coniscliffe Road, which prompted complaints about health problems.

Graham Gannaway, chief executive of Tees Valley YMCA, which runs a housing scheme in the shadow of the proposed mast, said: "Residents are concerned about the proximity of the mast to our building at Middleton Court.

"We are concerned from a health and safety perspective that should anything happen to the mast, either during construction or afterwards, then residents using our gym, the lounge or in their rooms would be at risk."

Vera Currie, of Middleton Street, has collected letters of complaint on behalf of 32 residents in the area.

She said: "When you are in the street it will be right there to the left of our homes.

"Objections have been raised about its appearance, interference, its site and wind noises.

"It is too close."

Other complaint letters have been sent to the council.

A letter from resident Yvonne Armstrong said: "I feel that this mast would be too close to the residents of this area and would be a health risk to all that live in the vicinity.

"I am aware that these masts need to be erected to satisfy the demands of mobile phone users but I feel there must be other areas where this can be erected away from residential areas."

The application states: "The agreement allows both organisations to consolidate the number of base stations required through sharing which is in accordance with government policy and significantly reduces the environmental impact of network development."