THOUSANDS of protesters have called on Bolton Council to abandon plans to remove roadside memorials.

An online protest against its decision to remove tributes after 30 days has attracted more than 2,500 supporters in just two days.

Social carer Zena Bate, aged 21, whose sister, Carla, was killed by a drink-driver in Longcauseway, Farnworth, in 2004, set up the Keep Our Road Side Memorials page on social networking site Facebook on Tuesday night.

Zena said: “I couldn’t believe it when my mum said the council wanted to remove Carla’s picture and the bows. I had to do something but I never expected so many people to join the group in such a short space of time.

“I think that we need to sit down with the council because we cannot see why, after five years, they suddenly want to start removing the tributes.” Last night, the group was fast approaching 2,600 members.

The council wants to removed memorials after 30 days and place a permanent memorial in a special area in Queens Park, Bolton.

Carla’s mum, Michaela, who presented a 500-name petition to Bolton Council as part of her response to a consultation on the proposal, said she was overwhelmed by the response.

She said: “I cannot believe how many people have joined the group. It is very unlike Zena to do something like this but she is very passionate about it.

“We have been keeping that memorial in Longcauseway as a memory to Carla for the last five years and I cannot believe the council wants to take it down.”

More than 1,000 people took part in a public consultation over the new policy. More than 80 per cent of respondents also said that they either agreed or strongly agreed that memorials causing a risk to safety should be removed early by the council.

A council spokesman said: “We are aware that the removal of roadside tributes is a sensitive issue, but we must balance the needs of the grieving families with the needs of the residents who live around the sites of these tributes.

“We are also aware that the families placing these tributes often put themselves in danger and our responsibility is to prevent any further accidents on the highways.”

The policy, which will only come into place once the permanent memorial is unveiled, is expected to be approved by Cllr Ismail Ibrahim, Executive member for environmental services, on Monday.