Council seeks legal advice in tussle over temporary phone mast site in Westgate

Mobile phone coberage

Thanet council is seeking legal advice after mobile phone and broadband firm MBNL, jointly owned by EE and Three, served notices on both the council and Westgate Community Centre trustees in a tussle over siting a temporary phone mast.

In April plans for a 20m telecoms mast to be installed on the corner of St Saviour’s C of E Juniors playing field were refused by the Department for Education.

The controversial plans drew opposition from the school. parents, councillors and Westgate-on-Sea Cricket Club which uses the field.

Last year the decision was challenged by residents who said it was not lawful because Thanet council wrongly stated the site is not in the Westgate Conservation Area. However, Thanet council said: “This decision is still valid and correct.”

Residents also wrote to the Secretary of State for Levelling Up to ask him to quash the permission.

In February MBNL approached the council over gaining an 18 month licence to site a temporary mast on  land at Lymington Road playing field. To do this access across the community centre car park is required.

Thanet council attempted to bring about agreement with Westgate Community Centre for the access but the centre did not wish to comply – meaning MBNL now has the option of going to court to impose a Code Agreement, on both the council and WCC.

A concerned Westgate resident says he became aware of the temporary site plan after receiving minutes from a meeting held in June between Thanet council’s Interim Estates Surveyor and Westgate-on-Sea Community Centre Association Committee.

He said he was concerned that the minutes referred to “keeping quiet on the proposed mast…(to)… enable TDC to be able to manage the press and not be on the back foot.”

According to the minutes, after the lease refusal by the DofE the mobile company looked at between 4 to 6 temporary sites and also the possibility of an appeal against refusal at the St Saviour’s site.

Planning permission does not need to be obtained for a ‘temporary’ installation. ‘Emergency’ rights are given to operators where service is disrupted in an area and they need to replace that coverage.

The Westgate resident said: “I strongly feel there is no “emergency” other than the mobile operators concern that they may lose customers to other providers. I switched from EE to Virgin (O2) and receive adequate signal throughout Westgate now.”

Council leader Rick Everitt responded to the resident’s concerns, saying the temporary mast would be for “addressing poor / lack of signal issues.”

He added: “The operator’s legal advisors have now served notices on both TDC and the community centre trustees which give 28 days to respond and confirm if they are prepared to enter into a Code Agreement. If a consensual agreement is not possible, then the operator has statutory powers to apply to court to impose the agreement at any time after the 28 days have expired.

“I note (the) scepticism about the 18-month period and the nature of the “emergency”. The council is in the process of instructing lawyers to seek advice on the matter, but should it try to mount a challenge against the mast in court then potentially it would be exposed to the risk of the operator’s legal costs being awarded against it, as well as the need to cover its own costs. Whether this risk can be justified would obviously depend on that advice.”

MBNL has been asked for comment.


  1. A lot of opposition was created by a few select people on social media who went out of their way to dispense false information about phone masts. Many of those are against vaccination as well.

    • There is a lot of concern about the effects of 5g radiation, all derived from misunderstandings and false information.

    • Inaccurate information Chris. A lot of locals objected, including very clued up ones such as scientists, engineers and those with many years experience in the medical professions. Many medical papers now available globally on the harms of the experimental jab as well btw, with grim excess deaths statistics and continuing sudden deaths there for all to see.

      • It might be helpfull if you included a link to peer-reviewed and published evidence to support your claims about 5g and vaccination.

  2. No there isn’t.I presume Andrew you never switch on a microwave or sit in a ship when it’s radars are working.
    I like most of the world are fed up with pseudo science and plain lies generated by the 5g nuts and vaccine idociocrasy generated by those with bigger mouths than brain cells.
    Please keep your unscientific views to yourself and find somewhere where the 21st century has not reached.How about trying South Georgia?

      • I assumed that Andrew was agreeing with Chris T, and that they both think 5G masts are not able to cause the damage (whatever it is) that some people think they cause.

      • Not.Worry about climate change instead it really is happening and is assessed and monitored by using real not fake science.

        • It seems to me to be quite bizarre that in the UK people are bickering about ULEZ zones and Net Zero policies, whilst increasingly round the world land, towns and cities are on fire.
          Wake up, and smell the smoke.

  3. If this proposed mast is to be “temporary” (like the previously proposed one on St Saviour’s playing field), will there be a permanent one at some point and, if so, where?

  4. What is estimated cost of this legal advice? I have no doubt this Council will be paying out thousands in legal advice fees. Have TDC no internal legal team?

  5. No internal competent team, and a history of blowing money on fighting legal issues using sub standard external legal monkeys. Good at blowing money at TDC ask how much and on what over the years, it will shame them, its a figure a mathematical genius would need a calculator for

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