VICTORIA Square could quickly become a homeless encampment as a protest escalates.

And those involved have accused Bolton Council of using a public tannoy system throughout the night as a tactic to deprive them of sleep.

In response to the protest, Bolton Council has said it will work with the protestors to help solve their housing issues.

“We are encouraging all the homeless people of Bolton to set up tents here in our protest,” said lead protestor, Travis Dootson (20), as he and his fiancé, Lisa Holiday, prepare to spend their sixth night in the square.

They have already been joined by fellow rough sleepers, Xavier Scheller (19) and William McCoy (44), and more are expected to join them.

The protest was triggered because Mr Dootson and Miss Holiday were told by Bolton’s Council One Stop that no joint social housing accommodation is available for them.

“Laura’s been offered somewhere but we’ve been through a lot and we need to be together”, explained Mr Dootson. “We lost our son in October and Laura’s mum passed away in November.

Some members of the public have shown kindness to the group, including someone who thoughtfully covered the tents in waterproof sheeting.

However, Mr Dootson said others had “terrorised” them.

On Wednesday evening, a brick was hurled at their tent and, Miss Holiday, said, thugs have threatened to set fire to their tent.

In addition, they have had toiletries, an E cigarette and a mobile phone stolen.

Mr Dootson also accused Bolton Council of adopting tactics usually used by the military in siege situations, to force them to abandon their protest.

“Each night, the council keep tapping on the tannoy system for 15 minutes at a time to keep us awake just when we’re trying to get our heads down,” he said.

On Thursday morning, a council officer told them to move and a police officer was in attendance. But Mr Dootson said: “The police told us that as long as we use no violence and do a peaceful protest, which we are doing, then we’re alright to stay here and the council would have to get a court order to get us moved.”

The couple are determined to continue their protest and Mr Dootson stated: “We’re going to stay here until we get a house together.”

Mr Dootson said they are urging other rough sleepers to join them.

“We’re trying to fill the full square up with homeless people as a protest. We want to embarrass the council into helping us.

A council spokesman said: “Council officers are aware of the situation and of the individuals involved, and we’re working with them to assist the securing of accommodation.”