AS MOBILE phone companies search for new sites for their third generation phone masts, communities are being forced to fight battles to keep them at bay.

People living in the Parsonage Manorway area of Belvedere are gearing themselves up for a third battle to stop a mast going up near the Great Harry pub.

Orange is the latest company to try its luck in the area.

It has applied to Bexley Council for permission to put a mast outside the pub on the corner of Eastry Road.

Last year, 500 residents and pub licensee Melanie Jones fought off attempts by phone company T-Mobile to site a mast next to the Great Harry.

When approaches to Mrs Jones to put the mast on the pub roof failed, the company applied to erect one on the pavement outside.

When Bexley Council turned down the plan, the company appealed.

However, residents renewed their efforts and the appeal was also turned down.

Within weeks of the appeal result, rival company Orange began canvassing the area for a mast just one road junction down from T-Mobile's proposed site.

Now residents are having to mobilise themselves again.

Their MP, John Austin, who is backing them all the way, said: "I have already outlined to Orange I can see no difference in this proposal from the one which was previously refused."

Residents have until October 30 to write to Bexley Council's planning department at Wyncham House, Longlands Road, Sidcup, to object to Orange's plans.

Orange is also behind plans to site a mobile phone base station in Woolwich Road, Belvedere.

This is near the site of Bexley's new state-of-the-art splash park.

The company says the 49ft high mast, with three equipment cabinets, is needed to maintain its network coverage in the face of the shutdown this year, of the controversial mast at Bedonwell Primary School, Bedonwell Road, Belvedere.

Orange is currently canvassing opinion in the area, before lodging a planning application.

However, ward councillor David Leaf says opposition to the mast is already growing into a campaign to stop it.