AN elderly widow from Heswall claims she is a prisoner in her own home after a phone mast was built outside her house following a council administration blunder.

Because of a delay in sending out paperwork notifying T-Mobile of a planning committee decision refusing permission for masts in Pensby, Gayton, Moreton and Claughton, the phone giant had "deemed consent" to go ahead with plans to build one 20 yards from the garden of 75-year-old Joyce Johnson's bungalow in North Drive, Heswall.

Mrs Johnson, a keen gardener, who was fitted with a mechanical heart seven years ago, told the Globe that she believes the mast's rays pose a threat to her health.

She said: "I live on my own and am a prisoner in my own home and can't even go out to the postbox or shops.

"My pension is being used to pay a young man to come in and do my garden."

Mrs Johnson, due back in hospital this week for an operation to repair the heart, attended a meeting of Wirral's regeneration and planning strategy overview and scrutiny committee at Wallasey Town Hall last week when Conservative councillors accused the authority of "burying its head in the sand" in a row over the masts' controversial sitings.

The purpose of the meeting was to discuss a report compiled by the former chief executive of Bolton Council, Bernard Knight, which found that administrative error led to the phone masts being allowed.

Disciplinary action was later taken against staff from Wirral's technical services department. During last Tuesday's meeting, Tory group deputy leader Cllr Lesley Rennie told the committee: "I believe that many residents have lost confidence in this council."

Liberal Democrat leader councillor Simon Holbrook told the Globe: "This is a mistake that occurred 12 months ago and it's time to move on.

"We need measures in place to ensure that this doesn't happen again.

"Mr Knight's report found administrative errors in the handling of the planning application's refusal which have now been addressed."

A Wirral Council spokeswoman said: "We again apologise to all residents affected by the phone masts that gained deemed consent due to our administrative errors. We apologise that no suitable compromise could be reached with T-Mobile and that the masts have now been erected."