Swings at a Sutherland play park were deemed a high safety risk in a Highland Council report- but it took the council five months to remove them.
Scourie residents were shocked when the swing seats were removed without warning earlier this year and feared their play park was at risk of closure.
They protested to the council via their community council, and eventually it emerged that the play park was not to be closed.
Residents’ relief at the news gave way to anger when they found out the true condition of the swings, and how long it had taken the council to take them down.
In a council inspection dated August 15, 2017, the swings scored 12/20.
The swing frame and cross bar were described as ‘severely corroded.’ The chains and seats were also corroded, as were the shackles binding the chains to the frame.
After the swing seats were removed, they were left on the ground, creating a further hazard to children.
Highland Council said after the inspection the work was scheduled in job sheets in September to be done when a member of staff was available.
A council spokeswoman said: “The same staff carry out winter roads maintenance duties so the task was not completed until January.
“For some reason the removed chains and seats were left on site but had been cut as part of the removal work so were out of use and were un-useable.
“The frame for the swings remains in position.
“Although the removal was done in January, it could be the case that people have only become aware now after seeing the removed equipment on the site.
“They may have seen the frame still in place and presumed the seats were attached.”
But Scourie residents are adamant the swings were removed in April.
A post on a community Facebook page dated April 21 appears to break the news to the community.
It attracted 76 comments from residents, with one resident posting: ‘It’s quite outrageous that Highland Council have done this without warning or community consultation, and shows just what they think of the opinions of people living here.’
Local councillor Kirsteen Currie said the swings were not removed until April this year.
She said: “It’s shocking to think that the swings were left in that rusted condition for children to play on and the community didn’t know their children were playing on those dangerous objects.
“I understand the council’s concerns that they are having to do a lot with not a lot of money, but it’s a public health issue.
With play parks earmarked for savings of £212,000 in the current council budget, it looks like Scourie children will have to wait to get their swings back.
The council spokeswoman said: “The equipment was removed when we had the resources to do so.”
Meanwhile Torridon residents were disturbed to find equipment from their play park removed on January 4.
The popular wooden and metal construction housed a fireman’s pole, ladder, swings and a slide.
One resident said: “It was there in the morning when I went out for the day, and when I got back it had gone.
“We had no warning or explanation. Our community council asked the council about it but received no reply.
“We know the play frame was about 20 years old and we had plans to work on it ourselves. One of our members had already repaired the gate and made a bench for it.
“There’s nowhere else for children to play, and our summer visitors are missing it too.”
The resident, who didn’t want to be named, added: “The play park was taken away before the council’s budget cuts meeting on February 15, that’s what upsets us most. What with the threat to our public toilets we feel like the council has small communities under attack.”
A Highland Council spokeswoman said: “The Torridon play park equipment was removed as it became unsafe. It was not suitable for relocation or any part of it fit for reuse. The equipment had been retained as long as possible.”