SCORES of Winchester residents turned out to voice their fears over a proposed phone mast on the tower of a historic church.

People in St Cross are worried about O2’s plans for the Grade I-listed Hospital of St Cross.

The phone company wants to improve coverage in the south Winchester area, and held a drop-in session on Tuesday evening, but it turned into a public meeting, with around 75 people attending.

One of them, mum-of-two Sarah Hampson, from St Cross, said: “The primary concerns are the proximity to St Faith’s school and the nursery.

“If anything, a lot of people came away more concerned about the responses they were getting.

“The beam of intensity will pass through the school and nursery.”

James Stevenson, of O2, said people were likening it to a “death ray coming from a Martian spaceship”, but said research had shown the technology was safe.

Steve Brine, the Conservative prospective parliamentary candidate for Winchester, who attended the meeting, said: “I think it is fair to say O2 did not do themselves any favours at the meeting.

“Their case seems to revolve around providing 3G mobile coverage for people passing through this part of Winchester, and asking the local community to overlook the understandable concerns they have because of the commercial interests of O2.”