In a victory for people power, Balgowlah Heights residents have forced Telstra to abandon its plan to build a mobile phone tower in the suburb.
For over a year the telco has been trying to install a new antenna in the area to improve mobile phone reception but strong opposition from local residents and a well-organised campaign by the Balgowlah Heights Precinct group has been successful in stopping the tower.
Telstra's initial choice of a site at New St West, only a few blocks from the local public school, enraged the community.
Manly Council barricaded the New St West site and in January a resident chained himself to a pole during a determined community campaign that eventually forced Telstra to look for another tower location.
The telco's subsequent choice of Balgowlah Bowling Club was also rejected by residents, as it would still have been too close to the school, as well as to surrounding homes.
In October Manly Council unanimously voted against giving Telstra permission to build a tower on the club site.
Balgowlah Heights Community Precinct and Manly Council suggested nearby Tania Park as an alternative site, but the telco said it was not suitable.
Recently Telstra admitted defeat. In a letterbox drop to residents the telco said it had "exhausted all feasible options" to improve mobile phone coverage in the area. Telstra apologised to its customers but said it understood "the importance of listening to the community". (See copy of letter below)
Good For Manly congratulates Manly Council, Balgowlah Heights Precinct and local residents who put good health ahead of good phone reception.
Candy Bingham, Deputy Mayor & Manly Ward Councillor on Northern Beaches Council. Background in marketing, public relations and community engagement. Author of five business books. Former Lady Mayoress of Sydney. Aka Candy Tymson.