RESIDENTS fear a mobile phone mast planned next to a children's play area will be a danger to health.
Vodafone says a 14-metre telecommunications mast at Vicars Cross junction, at the back of the Dulverton Avenue playing fields, would enable Chester to benefit from the latest mobile phone technology.
The news follows Vodafone's launch this month of its third-generation (3G) service, which offers video calls, music downloads and games, and enables phone users to download data at a faster rate.
Residents received letters at the weekend from Stappard Howes, on behalf of Vodafone Ltd, who said they would value their comments before applying for planning permission, in at least two weeks' time.
John Murphy, 74, of Oldfield Drive, Vicars Cross, said: 'They want to put it smack bang on the roundabout, about 100 yards from the houses, right on top of the play area.
'The main objection is the proximity to the houses overlooking the play area. Despite what the Government and Vodafone say about low emissions my contention is that I will be long gone before the effects of the radiation are felt.
'This is a densely populated area and they want to put it on the boundary of a children's play area. The effect on house prices in the area will be devastating. It will be a prominent eyesore overlooking our area.'
Mr Murphy and other residents have organised a meeting for next Wednesday when they will form an action group to oppose the mast.
Sue Thomas, 51, of Dulverton Avenue, said they were mostly concerned about harmful effects for their children.
Jackie Cridland, chairman of the Cedar Park Residents' Association and a retired teacher, said: 'The reality is we don't know how dangerous these masts are but we keep being told that mobile phones can cause brain tumours so we have no idea whether this is going to cause a tumour or any form of cancer. Very young children play there and we don't want it, quite frankly.'
Vodafone spokeswoman Jane Frapwell said: 'This is a mast to provide a new generation of services to local people in Chester. They are designed to blend into the street scene and are quite unobtrusive.'
She said the mast would be 'hundreds of times below' the international guidelines for public exposure to radiation, adopted by the UK.
She added that they were also planning on applying for permission for a 15-metre mast in Huntington. It would be located at the waste water treatment works.
The Dulverton Avenue fields are owned by the county council but rented and maintained by Great Boughton Parish Council.
Parish council chairman Jim McCabe said: 'I would hope that if Vodafone have need of a mast in that vicinity they would put it somewhere more appropriate than close to a residential area or a public amenity.'
The public meeting to discuss the plan is at 8pm on Wednesday at the Scout Hut, Thackeray Drive, Vicars Cross.