Bristol City Council sees sense on 'clear corridors' policy
RED-faced city council officials are carrying out a review on the 'clear corridors' policy which banned tenants from decorating the landings outside their flats.
Tenants were told to remove potted plants, pictures on walls and even their doormats because they were deemed a health and safety risk.
Bristol South MP Dawn Primarolo who has campaigned against the "Draconian" policy said the partial climbdown was "an outbreak of common sense".
She has been told in a letter from council service director Mary Ryan that tenants must have a clear means of escape in the case of fire.
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But Ms Ryan said: "The policy is now under review in the light of experience to date in Bristol and elsewhere."
In the meantime, no further action will be taken to extend the policy to new premises and enforcement action will be put on hold.
Ms Primarolo said she had lost count of the number of residents who had contacted her after receiving heavy-handed letters from the council.
"They simply couldn't understand why they were being asked to remove the unobtrusive items they used to brighten up the blocks which, after all, are their homes," said Ms Primarolo. "I hope that our mayoral candidates will commit to a proper review, which prioritises safety but also commits to common sense."
The Post has highlighted a number of cases in the past two years where council officials have told tenants to remove various items.
In June, council officials told Audry Stazaker, of Brandon House in Jacobs Wells Road, that she could no longer keep flower pots on the walkway outside her front door.
She welcomed the review and said: "All we are trying to do is make the place nice and cheerful when you open the front door. I'm still quite angry about it because it's probably down to someone in Brussels or someone in the Council House who has got nothing else to do."
Margaret Green, 62, who lives in sheltered accommodation in Creswicke Road, Knowle, was told to remove her mobility scooter from the hallway outside her front door.
She said: "I've had to put it out in the garden but I'm worried it will deteriorate out in the open during the winter. I'm very pleased to hear about this review."
Other cases highlighted in the Post included:
â November 2011: Residents in a sheltered housing home in Westbury-on-Trym were told to move mobility scooters from corridors outside their front doors after a fire safety officer visited Cote Bank House on Clover Ground and said they caused a fire hazard.
â October 2011: Disabled David Radford claimed he was a victim of "health and safety gone mad" after council officials demanded he removed objects including his doormat from outside his home. Mr Radford, said he put up two pictures and a small statue of a dog outside his flat in Baynton House, Lawrence Hill, to make his hallway more welcoming to guests.
â March 2012: Hannah Stewart, an 89-year-old severely disabled pensioner was told to remove her scooter or face having it disposed of as a fire hazard.
She said it was the only way she could get out of her flat and had been parked in a dead-end alcove outside her outside her flat in Northfield House, Bedminster, for 15 years.
Anthony Negus, the council's cabinet councillor for housing, said: "The only reason we introduced the policy in the first place was because of our duty to protect the lives of the many, many people who live in council blocks of flats across the city.
"However, we need to find a more consistent approach to the balance of the desire for individual expression by our tenants with the council's need to keep them safe. I am very aware of the concerns that a number of cases have thrown up and I want to look again at the policy, at re-balancing it, at finding scope for more flexibility while continuing to safeguard residents' lives."
A council spokesman said: "The policy was introduced in response to new national guidelines on how local authorities should manage the risks from fire in purpose-built blocks of flats, in consultation with Avon Fire and Rescue Service, which supports our stance.
"Any amendments would have to be done in consultation with Avon Fire and Rescue and would have to ensure that we continue to meet our legal obligations to protect the safety of residents in these blocks."