HAMPSHIRE’s most controversial phone mast has been removed.

Contractors have taken down the Orange mast on Byron Avenue, in Winchester, ending 13 years of argument and debate.

Residents battled the mast for more than four years, with marches, vigils and legal action, until it was erected in July 2005.

Now technology has moved on and the mast is no longer needed.

Leading campaigner Karen Barratt, of Byron Avenue, said: “The demolition squad took us all by surprise as we’ve been trying to get the mast taken away for over a year. At least unlike the day it was erected we didn’t have hoards of police to contend with.

“I just wish my husband, Mike, who put so much into the campaign, had lived to see this day. It was ironic that they chose the August Bank Holiday weekend to take it down as it’s the third anniversary of his death.”

Local city and county councillor Martin Tod said: “It’s been surprisingly difficult to get this sorted, but I’m glad we’ve got it done. I tried via the county council officers who work with mobile companies to coordinate street works, via Customer Services at EE and Orange, via various contact emails on the Orange and EE websites and even via social media, but finally hit the jackpot when I wrote via the Mobile Operators Association!

“The Director of Corporate Affairs at EE promised that the phone mast would be removed by the end of August - and last Saturday it went.”