VILLAGERS say they feel let down by a “flawed” planning process which has resulted in permission for a new mobile phone mast near a children’s skate park being granted.

Vodafone and Telefonica jointly have had plans for the new imposing structure on Nyworthy in Horton approved by South Somerset District Council, despite more than 200 residents putting pen to paper in objection.

Neighbours in Pottery Road were hoping that the application would be discussed at the district council’s Area West committee, but the plans have been approved.

The move comes 13 years after villagers successfully campaigned against similar proposals and were assured by the mobile giants that the plans would not be revisited.

A spokesman for the residents group said: “The planning process is flawed on a number of counts. This is supposed to be a democratic process and we are not being given the opportunity to have our say.

“It seems as though Vodafone have tried to steam roll these processes and renege on their written assurances.

“This is not just restricted to us, this is becoming a national issue - look at other villagers who are facing similar plans.

“We understand the need for the mast, but there is a way forward, where it could be moved further away from homes.”

In a letter to the residents in 2002, Vodafone’s then-environmental and planning controller Clive Snelling, said: “I would like to reassure you that Vodafone does not intend to appeal the decision.”

Residents say they would like Vodafone to simply be true to their word, to not revisit the plans, and review alternative sites.

Cllr Linda Vijeh, who represents the residents at district council level, said she was extremely disappointed that the plans had not been put to the Area West committee, as she had requested.

She said: “Does local opinion count for nothing? I would be interested to know the reason for agreeing to the officer’s recommendation without further discussion at Area West, given the high strength of local feeling, with well over 200 signatures and a strong recommendation for refusal from the parish council. At the very least, there should have been the opportunity for a public airing.”

A mobile provider spokesman said: “Vodafone and Telefonica customers expect to be able to use their mobiles and devices where they live, work and travel.

“Base stations are low powered devices which cover approximately half a mile in radius, therefore we have to put base stations close to our customers. Without base stations mobile phones would not work.”