A SUMMER camp caring for dozens of children in Knightswood was forced to close after it emerged it was operating without proper permission.

West End Adventure took over the former Step by Step nursery site on Rotherwood Avenue in June but last week, Glasgow City Council (GCC) ordered the camp to cease all activities and vacate the area.

The camp organisers had erected a climbing wall, pop-up tents and outdoor toilets on the site, while some staff brought campervans to stay on the grounds. The local authority, which owns the land, was unaware it was being used.

It is understood the site was used primarily as a drop-off point for children who were attending day trips with the camp.

It’s not known exactly how many children were using the area, but council officers were tipped off after a series of noise complaints from local residents.

Baillie Malcolm Balfour, who visited the site after his constituents raised concerns, said: “The buildings are partly condemned, there’s issues with asbestos and some other things.

“I got a number of complaints from neighbours about the noise and kids running around, what would normally be, a busy bus route.

“The concept is a good idea, I don’t have any problem with that, but they don’t have permission to be there.”

Councillor Paul Carey reported the issue to GCC after parents questioned the situation.

He said: “We cannot allow any group to turn up and start running summer camps on council land without going through the proper process.

“We are not in the business of spoiling the fun for young people, but you have to go through the proper channels.

“The rules and procedures are there for the safety of the children and this must be paramount.”

It’s understood an application to allow the camp to operate on the site was submitted to the council by the nursery, which leases the land from the council, but camp organisers apparently went ahead prior to the decision being made.

Step by Step Nursery, which owns a chain of childcare facilities across the city, insists the incident was a “misunderstanding”.

The company operated from within a building, which it still owns, on the site until 2014.

A spokeswoman for the group said it was mistakenly thought it could grant permission within the terms of its lease for a drop-off site on a temporary basis to the West End Adventure company, but it was unaware of the amount of equipment which was brought on site.

She added: “I had no idea that what we were doing wasn’t allowed. We knew we needed the landlord’s permission for the formal lease but this was only temporary for the four weeks the schools were off.

“We said they could throw their stuff in the building and the kids could meet there, I didn’t know there would be anything else on the site.”

GCC contacted the childcare chain last week and insisted it instructs the camp to pack up and leave by the end of last week.

However, the camp organisers dispute the claims. Instead insisting they left the site of their own accord and had a lease agreement with Step by Step which allowed them to operate on the land.

A spokesman said: “We never knowingly entered into an illegal lease. We were trying to do everything for the right reasons and were going through the process of trying to purchase the building ... we’ve been caught up in an issue between Step by Step Nursery and Glasgow City Council.”

A spokesman for City Property, which manages the property on behalf of the council, said: “Following complaints from local residents, City Property Glasgow (Investments) LLP (CPGI) discovered that West End Adventures had taken occupation of the ground together with the building and were undertaking activities with disregard to adjacent residents.

"Our tenant has neither formally or informally received our consent to sub-let the ground and has therefore breached the terms of their lease agreement.

“CPGI has contacted Step by Step Private Nursery Limited, our tenant. It was made it clear to the tenant that they were in breach of the lease agreement and must inform West End Adventures to remove immediately from the property and cease all activities on site.

“Step by Step Nursery has confirmed that they have instructed West End Adventures to remove from the property. CPGI will continue to monitor the situation and seek to resolve the matter with our tenant.”