GOLFERS who refuse to follow lockdown rules have been slammed for continuing to play, as well as abusing a councillor who told them to stop.

Independent councillor Stephen Aylen, who represents the Belfairs ward, said that every day he has seen around 20 people attempting to play golf at the Belfairs Golf Club on Eastwood Road in Leigh.

The sport has not been classed as a daily form of activity under government advice and is therefore not a reason for a people to avoid following lockdown guidelines.

The councillor said he has asked people not to play for their own safety but has faced aggressive confrontations.

The golf course is officially closed, with all flags removed from holes and no staff on site.

“I have tried to tell them they shouldn’t be playing and they always just start shouting, saying they are only playing a few holes and what harm could it do,” he said.

“Even though I try to talk to them from a distance, I do sometimes fear for my safety. I am an elected and have a duty of care to protect residents.

“I am looked at with some authority and people ask why I haven’t gone up and challenged these people.

“Every day there is people there, probably around 20 a day trying to play.

“All the flags are removed but they are still just coming along.”

He said he has considered calling the police over the situation as they now have the power to hand fixed penalty notices to people who go out for non-essential reasons, but he believes they are already overloaded.

“I think people just do not understand how serious this is. They just don’t get it.

“There is an attitude of I am going to do what I like anyway, who do you think you are telling me what to do.

“It is terrible to think, but until someone near to a lot of these people dies from this, until it happens to them, they won’t do anything.”

Lockdown rules permit everyone one form of exercise a day, but this does not include a round of golf.

The leader of the council, Labour Councillor Ian Gilbert has sided with Mr Aylen and urged people not to play golf and to observe the strict lockdown guidelines for their own safety and the safety of those around them.

He said: “There are four reasons people can leave their homes and one is for exercise, however that includes a walk, run or cycle, not a three to four hour round of golf which can often involve groups of up to four people.

“Unfortunately although the golf course is closed, we cannot physically restrict access as it is an open space, however, the flags have been removed and we would urge residents to not play.

“It is really unfortunate to hear that a councillor has received verbal abuse for doing their duty and reminding people of their responsibilities.”

The governing body for the sport, England Golf, has said in a statement that keeping golf course open is “no longer compatible” with government policy which is “designed to save lives in a time of national emergency”.

Last week the body announced that all golf clubs and courses in England must now close, and that all competitions have been postponed.

People have been advised not to attempt to play, regardless of the number of people playing or the length of time they are attempting to play for.