FUMING residents have threatened to sue the council after a blunder by planning officers opened the door for a 45ft phone mast to be put up on their doorstep.

The mast, belonging to mobile phone company 0, was put up in Arnison Avenue, High Wycombe, last month despite Wycombe District Council (WDC) refusing planning permission for it back in 2003. The mobile company used a legal loophole to put up the pole when it realised the council had missed the deadline to respond to its application by one day, giving the company automatic permission. The council has 56 days to respond to applications.

The gaffe was admitted by the council's legal team in a letter sent to O in July last year, which asked it to negotiate on an alternative site.

WDC claims O has "not acted in good faith" by sticking up the column and said the mobile phone company's application was not complete when it received it, which delayed its decision. O says it has acted responsibly and within the law.

But people living opposite the mast are now thinking of taking action against the council.

Stephen Chaffin, 32, from Amersham Road, said: "I find it quite incredible that we have got to this situation."