A MOBILE phone company accused of illegally erecting a mast, has claimed it acted within the law when carrying out the work.

T-Mobile is appealing against an enforcement notice issued by Bolton Council, demanding the mast is removed from its position in Coronation Square, Little Lever.

It was erected last September despite planning approval being refused last April.

At a planning inquiry yesterday, the company claimed it did not receive notification of the decision within the required 56 days, so it went ahead with the installation.

Robert Linnell, representing T-Mobile, argued that the company has permission for the mast and, if it was found otherwise, it should be granted anyway.

"T-Mobile did not receive the decision notice," he said. "The mast is needed to replace the one we have been forced to move from the Pennine Pets site to allow it to be re-developed."

Bolton Council says it sent a fax of the outcome of the planning meeting to the firm and wrote to its headquarters.

Howard Barritt, head of planning control, argued the mast should not be allowed to stay because of its location and visual impact.

"T-Mobile have chosen a site right at the heart of Little Lever and the community, which must be the most conspicuous location possible," he said. "It is the first thing people see and stands out like a sore thumb."

His sentiments were echoed by others who spoke to oppose the mast.

Cllr Sean Hornby, who represents Little Lever and is chairman of the council's planning committee, said: "It is directly opposite the library and war memorial, close to a bus shelter so young people can climb on top of it and it obstructs the pavement. The community has come together and shown its feelings on this."

Two petitions of 700 signatures were handed to planning inspector David Hainsworth. He will also be sent details of an online petition of 350 signatures.

A site visit was made yesterday afternoon where protesters gathered to show their anger over the mast. A decision on the appeal is expected in a few weeks.