MORE than 30 residents attended a meeting last night to rally opposition to a phone mast erected without planning permission.

The T-Mobile mast went up in Little Lever last September, despite approval being refused by Bolton Council the previous April.

The council issued an enforcement notice to get the mast removed but the company appealed against it.

The issue will go before the planning inspectorate at a hearing at Bolton Town Hall, starting at 10am tomorrow.

The mast was top of the agenda at the first meeting of the first Little Lever and Darcy Lever Area Forum, held at Mytham Primary School.

Howard Barritt, head of planning control at the council, updated residents on the issue and encouraged people to get involved.

Mr Barritt said: "The planning inspectorate will ask who wants to speak and, if you want to, you can.

"Anybody here, or whoever, can represent their views at the hearing."

The planning inspectorate will visit the village in the afternoon to look at the mast.

Cllr Sean Hornby, chairman of the council's planning committee, said: "When the inspector comes down to have a look at the mast we need to have a gathering of people. That would be helpful." Among the residents to criticise the mast was George Hill, aged 58, of Dukes Avenue.

He said: "It's obtrusive, it's such a big structure.

"It's very high and is ugly in the centre of the village.

"Why can't they put it on the top of a roof on Market Street?"

The company was refused permission for the mast because of its visual impact and the absence of a certificate showing that it met emissions guidelines.

But T-Mobile claims it sent the emissions certificate and that the council failed to notify them of its decision within the required 56 days. The council denies this.

The mast was installed in Coronation Square, off Market Street.

Talks held in November, to try and find another site for the mast, failed.

The result of tomorrow's hearing is expected in July.