CONTROVERSIAL plans for a mobile phone mast near two schools have been rejected even though councillors admitted their case was weak.

The heads of Stourfield Infants and Stourfield Junior Schools joined forces to urge Bournemouth's planning committee to refuse the plans for an O2 mast on land at the rear of Warnford Road, Iford.

And they were delighted when councillors obliged, voting against their officer's recommendation in the process.

The plans sparked 165 letters of objections while more than 550 concerned residents and parents signed petitions of protest.

Emma Rawson, head of Stourfield Junior School, told councillors the prospect of a 12.5 metre mast 200 metres from the school boundary went against all their efforts to keep children safe and healthy.

And Catherine Kirkham, head of the infants school, said: "I've been head teacher for some 11 years now and in all honesty I have never experienced a parental voice so strong.

"Together we teach 800 pupils they start school at four years old. No matter how small the measured risk might be, it's still a risk that need not be there."

Ward councillor Adrian Fudge said: "You're damned if you do and damned if you don't. It would be lovely to be able to say no to all these masts but I've not heard any planning reasons to turn it down."

But fellow ward councillor Fran Ketchley proposed refusal, pointing out that much of the surrounding land had been bought for future development and could eventually accommodate dozens of young families.

Cllr Ron Whittaker said: "I appreciate we've got very weak grounds but if we fail to listen to the community I don't think we're fulfilling our job properly as a planning board."