RESIDENTS have been left devastated after a children's pond-dipping platform was stolen from a Westhoughton beauty spot.

Fundraisers raised money to pay for platform at Eatock Lodge in Daisy Hill nearly three years ago.

Now nearly all of the wooden decking, worth hundreds of pounds, has been ripped up and removed by thieves.

The platform has now had to be cordoned off because it is too dangerous to use.

Friends of Eatock Lodge believe the wood was removed and carried to a waiting vehicle at the bottom of Miry Lane, Daisy Hill.

The theft happened between Tuesday, March 25, and Wednesday, March 26.

Brenda Shott, from Friends of Eatock Lodge, said: “I think somebody has brought a van as some wood was found down the road from Eatock Lodge.

"Everybody is really, really upset about what has happened. A lot of dog walkers go walking there and they are up in arms about it.

“We are very upset as we have worked hard to improve the area. They have absolutely prised up the decking and left the nails behind. It is a wonder nobody has been hurt.”

Cllr Kevan Jones, who represents Westhoughton South, said: “It is just sad that the Friends of Eatock Lodge try and do something for the community and they work really hard to make it nicer.

"Nothing surprises me about these mindless and selfish acts.”

Youngsters use the platform to watch birds and learn about wildlife.

Cllr Jones said the platform is also used by anglers who use wheelchairs.

The group received a £10,000 lottery grant three years ago, which was used to attract more people to the site through a series of activities.

Insp Chris Evans, from Bolton South Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “We try to create a nice environment and others will come and ruin it for everybody.

"People try to have a nice cohesive community but somebody would rather steal it than buy it.”

Insp Evans said their investigation is ongoing.

Anyone with information can call police on 0161 8565608 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.