CHILDREN burst into tears after Kirklees Council cut down their tree swing for safety reasons.
Mum Janet Hellawell is angry after an employee came out-of-hours to remove the plaything which her family has used for more than a decade in Primrose Hill.
And then council workers also demolished a tree house nearby and Mrs Hellawell said left nails sticking up out of the wood. The family say they will now remove the wood to make the area safe.
The tree house was in the process of being built about 8ft off the ground by people living in the area and there were plans for a ladder to be constructed up to it.
The Huddersfield mother-of-six said she preferred her children to use the tree swing because the nearby council-run play area was full of broken bottles, used needles and drinkers.
“My children are upset about this, they were crying,” said the 38-year-old.
Mrs Hellawell’s children Georgia, 16, Ryan, 12; eight-year-old twins Alex and William; Mickey, five and four-year-old Oliver have all used the swing on council-owned land behind their home on Orchard Terrace.
“Members of our community put up a swing on a huge tree just outside the end of our garden,” she said.
“It’s been there since my husband, Sean, and I moved here 16 years ago. Sometimes it’s been a knot, sometimes there’s been a tyre or a piece of wood.
“There’s another family on the street whose children use the swing and it’s also used by passersby and children who have come to visit their grandparents.”
A Kirklees worker arrived at 7.30pm last Thursday to remove the seat from the tree swing.
Mrs Hellawell said: “He told me that if anybody hurt themselves they could sue the council.
“He said that someone would be back to remove the rope and to dismantle a tree house which had been started.
“It’s just ridiculous. None of my children have ever injured themselves on the swing – it’s low enough for my four-year-old to climb on to unaided.”
The council worker told the family they could use the play area about 300 yards from her home instead.
But Mrs Hellawell said the recreation site was unsuitable for young children.
“There’s often broken glass and needles there,” she said.
“At certain times of the day there’s a lot of youths there drinking and dogs running round off their leads.
“I think it’s a complete waste of taxpayers’ money to send someone out-of-hours to make my children cry.
“The council should be concentrating on the mess at the local play area and the youths who are causing a nuisance rather than focusing on my young children playing at the end of our garden where they’re safe.
“The council is supposed to be encouraging children to play outdoors instead of sitting indoors on their computer games and getting fat.”
A Kirklees spokeswoman defended removing the swing.
She said: “Tree swings can be potentially dangerous to users and can damage trees. We are responsible for ensuring the safety of users of our facilities and such rope swings make it extremely difficult to do this with untested and unapproved equipment.”
The spokeswoman also questioned Mrs Hellawell’s criticism of the council-run play area.
“We have found little evidence to support the allegations made about the play area, which is regularly inspected and maintained by the council,” she said.
“However, we will ask the local police and community rangers to keep a close eye in case there are problems out-of-hours”.