STEAM-powered craft have been banned at popular Wirral boating lakes . . . . .on health and safety grounds.

Stan Parkinson, chairman of New Brighton Model Boat Club, said the ban was introduced primarily to protect children attracted to the resort lake to watch enthusiasts sail their model boats.

He said: "It's a health and safety issue. At Gautby Road in Birkenhead the lake is three or four times the size of the lake in New Brighton and they can use petrol and steam boats there, though the petrol ones really are designed for offshore."

Mr Parkinson said the risk of steam or petrol boats blowing up made them too risky.

Model boating clubs used craft which were either electric-powered or sailing boats.

He added: "If one of these petrol or steam boats goes full pelt into the side it could make a real mess."

The decision to ban steam craft – called for by boating clubs – has raised the hackles of some enthusiasts, however.

Chris Swale from Upton criticised the move and branded Wirral Council “killjoys.”

He said: "It's time for all steam enthusiasts to stand up and be counted, make a fuss, write to your MP, go to the European Courts.

Mr Swale said the ban had particularly affected a friend who made model steam boats. Because he was disabled he could only use the New Brighton boating lake because it has a wall around it.

A Wirral Council spokesman said signs were erected at the request of New Brighton and Hoylake boating clubs because they could be dangerous on a relatively small boating lake in a public area.