ANGRY residents say they will chain themselves to play equipment if housing bosses carry out their threat to remove it.

Over the summer, neighbours living in Hargreaves House clubbed together to buy swings, trampoline and a large paddling pool at a cost of around £1,000 so children could enjoy playing over the summer.

But instead of celebrating the community spirit, residents say they were told in no uncertain terms to remove it on grounds of health and safety.

Now the situation has come to a head with claims that Bolton at Home is threatening to go to the residential complex and rip it out.

Disbelief has now turned to anger with residents promising to chain themselves to the swings to stop them being removed.

Bolton at Home say they can't allow people to install play equipment in communal areas for safety reasons.

Martin Donaghy, one of the residents who is also a senior local councillor, said: “There has never been anything here for the children and all the residents donated money to pay for the equipment.

“I was more than happy to contribute, and the children have loved playing on it, being in the pool.

“It was something for them to do during lockdown and the difference it has made has been huge. Now Bolton at Home say they are going to dismantle it and charge those responsible.”

He added: “Community spirit like this should be encouraged."

Cllr Donaghy said that over the past months, residents have carried out repairs on decorative mosaic work, brick work and jet washed outside.

“Then we are asked ‘by whose permission have you done this’,” said Cllr Donaghy.

Barbecues in the communal area have also been banned, and residents have reported that children have been told not to play outside.

Cllr Donaghy said: “I and other residents will be chain ourselves to the swings, they shall not be moved.”

Maryam Rahmani said: “The children do not have anywhere to play and my three have loved playing in the summer, and it is not fair on the children to take away the play equipment.”

Spirit Stephan said: “Since being on Hargreaves House we never had anything outside for the children.

"When we decided to go ahead and buy the trampoline etc the children were so happy. It’s going to devastate them knowing it’s going to be removed at some point.”

Gemma Parlby, Director of Housing Services for Bolton at Home, said: “We encourage our tenants to make the most of shared spaces and designated play areas within our neighbourhoods. However, tenancy agreements exist to protect and balance the interests of all tenants. From a safety perspective we simply cannot allow people to install their own play equipment in communal areas.

“We were responding to concerns from some tenants at Hargreaves House about noise nuisance and antisocial behaviour caused by outside gatherings, involving fires and barbecues. We feel that we’ve taken reasonable and measured action by highlighting tenant responsibilities where appropriate and in-line with tenancy agreements. This is especially important when there is still a requirement to maintain social distancing.

“Tenants’ safety is our main priority and we work with our tenants, the police and fire service, and other partners to do what we can to ensure all tenants live in a safe and comfortable environment.”

Responding to the comment, Cllr Donaghy said: "Why house families here if this is what Bolton at Home want, do they want to turn into a retirement home, where people live in silence and where there is no character."

Deputy Labour Group Leader, Akhtar Zaman said: “The residents of Hargreaves House have been trying to make life more bearable during lockdown by buying, out of the their own pockets, play equipment for the children to use in the large central courtyard, ­— paying full attention to social distancing rules ­— as well as new hanging baskets etc. It feels quite sad that they have come up against opposition to their improvements from Bolton at Home.

"Bolton at Home seem to have got their priorities wrong. Surely, the important thing is to sit down with the residents and work out ways forward to resolve their concerns rather than turning up heavy handed to remove everything."