A GOVERNMENT planning inspector has quashed a move by Bolton Council to force a telecommunications giant to remove a 47ft mobile phone mast.

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

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

A mix-up led to T-Mobile believing it had been granted permission to install the equipment so it erected the mast.

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 against the decision and a hearing was held in front of government inspector Paul Taylor. In his formal ruling, Mr Taylor quashed the council's enforcement notice.

A council spokesman said: "It was unfortunate that the inspector did not agree with the council's evidence on this matter. We were of the view that the mobile phone mast blocked the pavement on Crompton Way in a fashion that might have affected users of the footway and highway.

"The council will continue to deal with the many applications from mobile phone operators in a way that best protects the communities of Bolton."

Cllr Nick Peel, chairman of the planning and highways committee at Bolton Council said: "We try to encourage the companies to erect masts to the minimum height and where possible to mast-share."

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

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

James Bevis, who represents T-Mobile, said: "Pedestrians would stand close to the kerb and the mast would not obstruct the view."