PARENTS have been flouting lockdown rules in Moss Bank Park by lifting their children over locked gates to access play areas.

Despite signs stating that the play area is closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, children were seen playing on swings and slides while their parents watched on Wednesday afternoon.

Playgrounds have been closed throughout the duration of lockdown, although public parks are open to allow people to exercise with social distancing in place.

Local resident Tracey Cole visits the park in Smithills every day with her husband and they’ve noticed it becoming busier over the past few days.

She said: “The gate has a big chain around it with a massive padlock. We saw mothers lifting children over the gate. They were even passing prams over it. It’s disgusting.

“There were around six families in there. The children were two to eight years old and they were using the swings, slides, climbing frames, just about everything.

“The fact is we don’t know how long the virus lives on these surfaces and all it takes is one person to spread it. That’s the big worry.

“The ridiculous thing is they even have to touch the sign to climb over the fence.

“It makes it worse because I am shielding for my 88-year-old mother and I do all her food shopping. I would love to be able to hug her but I know social distancing is important.”

Lockdown rules have been relaxed recently however the message of social distancing remains to ensure the spread is kept under control.

Smithills Councillor Garry Veevers said: “I am concerned. I think the government rules are still quite clear on social distancing. Yes, we can go to the park but social distancing measures must be obeyed.

“We all have a responsibility to follow the rules as much as possible. I think the message that has got out to the public right now is muddled and confusing, and that’s a real shame for all those who have observed the guidelines over the past 10 weeks.

“I would say to people use your common sense. We all know this virus is transmitted through physical contact and close proximity. Common sense alone tells you that that should be the one thing not to do.”

“A second spike is the biggest fear, we have suppressed the virus to the degree we have because of the willingness of the public to obey these rules. “If we hadn’t done that the extent of the virus would be much greater. If we begin to relax the rules there will always be the danger of a second spike.“Parents have a duty to send the correct message to their children. But if and when children go back to school, teachers will have a real battle on their hands with social distancing, especially if parents themselves aren’t teaching them this message.“The message out there right now is confusing and that is a great concern. This behaviour is alarming, but not all that surprising.”

Bolton Council were contacted for comment.