RESIDENTS protesting at a proposed mobile phone mast at Cove discovered this week that they needn't have bothered - the scheme was ditched three months ago.

No-one had passed on the news to those objecting to the 70ft high mast earmarked for the village cricket ground near Grasmere Road.

Rushmoor Council, which owns the ground, told mobile phone firm Hutchison 3G on Monday that it does not intend to allow any mast to be erected there.

And council property services chief Richard Stafford said the cricketers had been told of the decision back in March.

Protesting residents who met on Monday to co-ordinate their campaign against the mast, were delighted with the news but not totally convinced.

Said Mrs Linda Dawes, of Grasmere Road: "We intend to stay together as a group as we think this may not be the end of the matter."

Alan Chainey, of Southwood Road, commented: "The one thing this has done is to bring the whole of our community together in opposition to it."

Chris Jones from Rushmoor's planning department said the application had been expected to appear on the July committee agenda. There was a minor problem in any event in that Rushmoor had not been served with a notice as owner. But planning law says that a firm can apply for permission even if it does not own a site.

Mr Stafford said that when the cricket club approached Rushmoor in February he consulted councillors and the club was told that a mast would not be allowed. On Monday Hutchison's agents rang and were told the same thing.

"I did suggest that they have discussions with our planning department to see if they could find a more suitable site away from houses and with less effect on the community," he said.