A GOVERNMENT planning inspector is to rule whether a 47ft mobile phone mast in Crompton Way poses a risk to pedestrians and vehicles and should be pulled down.

Telecommunication giant T-Mobile erected the mast on the footpath next to the Shell petrol station and in front of Tonge Cricket Club last year.

The mast is designed to provide coverage to Crompton, Bradshaw, Hall i' th' Wood and areas around Tonge Moor.

A mix-up in dates by the Bolton Council led to T-Mobile believing it had been granted permission to install the equipment.

But the council refused to give retrospective permission and ordered the company to pull down the mast as well as remove three equipment cabinets, claiming they were a potential hazard.

T-Mobile appealed the decision and yesterday, a day-long hearing was held in front of government inspector Paul Taylor, who heard arguments from the council and T-Mobile.

Graeme Mitchell, Bolton's group planning officer, said: "The mast obstructs the view of people crossing the road at that point, and the vehicles would not get a good view of them."

Council officers said the risk would be heightened as m ore people visited the cricket club and would try to cross the road to the pub and supermarket.

The council also argued the equipment narrowed the path and prevented pedestrians passing each other safely.

Ian Calderbank, principal engineer for Bolton's highways department, said: "A person pushing a buggie would find it difficult to pass if there was another pedestrian. It is likely it would cause one of the pedestrians to step in the carriageway to pass."

The concerns were dismissed by by T-Mobile and James Bevis, representing the company, said: "Pedestrians would stand close to the kerb and the mast would not obstruct the view.

"The road is wide and vehicles would not be close to the kerb as they drove by. Pedestrians could walk down to the crossing on the road."

He also pointed to other street furniture on the highway which also obstruct views, such as trees.

Fellow representative for the company, Robert Linnell added: "No-one would launch themselves in the road without first looking around."

Mr Bevis added: "The width provided between the mast and the cabinet was adequate to allow people to pass each other.

"The footpath is lightly used. There is ample visibility for pedestrians to see if someone is approaching in a wheelchair, so they can slow down and let them pass."

He also said the cricket club would not attract huge crowds like the famous ground The Oval.

A decision on the mast is expected in three weeks.