A MOBILE phone giant which erected a 40 foot mast refused planning permission by councillors has snubbed a request to rip down the structure.

A legal battle is looming between Bolton Council and T-Mobile over the mast at the Market Street precinct in Little Lever, which was levered into place on Sunday morning.

The move sparked fury among residents and workmen downed tools when police were called by local councillor Sean Hornby, who is also the council's planning committee chairman.

The committee had refused the mast permission in April and the authority says it will now take enforcement action to get the structure removed.

But T-Mobile is refusing to take down the mast, meaning the row is likely to go before a public inquiry chaired by a Government inspector where both sides will outline their case.

The company claims the council failed to follow guidelines by notifying it of the committee's decision within 56 days of the plans being submitted.

But Cllr Hornby said: "Their representatives attended the planning committee meeting to listen to the debate and also spoke," he said.

"The day after the meeting we faxed the committee's decision on the Market Street mast through to their agents and we have written evidence recording this.

"A decision letter was also posted to T-Mobile the day after the committee met.

"They were fully aware of our feelings in this matter and clearly knew the decision of the council but have been irresponsible in pressing ahead with erecting this mast."

At their meeting in April, councillors had raised fears over the possible health impact of the mast because a certificate showing it met radiation guidelines had not been produced.

They also said the visual impact of the mast would be unacceptable.

A T-Mobile spokesman said the firm had received a fax from the council but that it had referred to a decision to refuse another mast in Chorley Old Road considered at the same committee meeting.

He added that the company had only received notification of the decision 67 days after it put in the plans and insisted it had submitted a certificate showing emissions guidelines would be met.

"It's an administrative error by the council," he claimed. "We believe the mast is legal because this situation has been tested in courts throughout the country and this inquiry is going to cost the council a lot of money.

"The council's own planning officers had recommended approval of the mast and we had no response to our own consultation about the mast which involved the ward councillors, a nursery and a local school."