A ROW over a phone mast put up without permission has reached the House of Commons.

Communities secretary Hazel Blears said her department would the issues surrounding the mast in Market Street, Little Lever, after they were raised by Bolton South-east MP Dr Brian Iddon.

The mast was put up by T-Mobile last month, despite being refused permission by Bolton Council's planning committee in April. That sparked an angry protest by residents but the firm has refused the council's call for the mast to be ripped down.

During a parliamentary question session, Dr Iddon asked Salford MP Ms Blears: "What does my right honourable friend have to say to the angry residents of Little Lever, who found that T-Mobile turned up early one Sunday morning and erected the mast without planning permission?

"Should not firms like that be fined for their absolute arrogance?"

Ms Blears replied that the issue was one of "importance" to communities.

"It is vital that the companies involved are sensitive to the needs of local people, conduct their business in a proper way with integrity, and consult the local community," she said.

"If in the instance that the honourable gentleman mentions, local views have simply been ignored and trampled on, clearly that is a matter that we will want to look into, because the basis of the system is trust and confidence.

"Where that is lacking, decisions will not have the support of the constituency."

Dr Iddon welcomed Ms Blears' response but admitted that any probe by her department may have to wait if T-Mobile fails to remove the mast by a November 1 deadline, triggering an independent public inquiry.

Dr Iddon said: "This really is something that needs looking into at a high level. It is not the first time a company has done this."

A petition objecting to the mast has now attracted more than 900 signatures, while another on the Little Lever website now has 195.

The council's planning committee refused permission for the mast because of its visual impact and the absence of a certificate showing it met emissions guidelines.

T-Mobile claims it sent the certificate and that the council failed to notify the company of its decision within the required 56 days of plans being submitted. The council denies this.