CHILDREN are risking their lives by clambering up scaffolding to the top of a church spire.

Neighbours near the Grade 2 listed St Cuthbert’s Church in Earnsdale Road witnessed a pair of teenage boys swinging on the roof structures and tampering with the hands of the church clock.

Church officials said they had anticipated problems during the summer holiday, and had put in a range of deterents, but were 'alarmed' at the photographs.

Father Douglas Moore said: “They must have been pretty determined to get up there because there’s boarding up at the bottom and the ladders are deliberately higher than most people can get to.

"I think they’d have to clamber up the pole to get to them.

“This is not an area for any kind of games. It is a church yard and round the corner we have an area devoted to the burial of cremated remains.

“If we ever see any children messing about we always tell them of the dangers and move them on.

“They are risking their lives. If anyone fell from that height there would be serious consequences.

“I shall be very relieved when it is all taken down.”

The lower part of the scaffolding has been up for several months, while work on a leaking roof and the vandalised clock face is carried out, but the top section of scaffolding has only been added in the last couple of weeks.

Chris Rugg, the church warden, said: “We have been doing everything we possibly can to stop the children playing on the scaffolding.

“We’ve put signs up, boarded it up, but during the summer holidays, the kids have the devil in them.

“I have been up with the scaffolder and it’s a very, very long way and and very scary.”

“If anyone sees children on the scaffolding, we urge them to call the police.”

A neighbour said: “I have seen some boys at the bottom of the scaffolding before, but never at the top.

“It’s very worrying because it’s very dangerous.”

Call the police on 0800 1 25 35 45.