Potted plants are a fire risk says council
THE council's health and safety officials are at it again – this time colourful potted plants have been deemed a fire risk.
Bristol City Council has told some of its tenants that flowers in tower block corridors and balconies could be a hazard.
They've also warned that essential mobility aids being kept outside council flats could be banned because of fire safety regulations.
People who refuse to clear landings outside their flats could end up in court, residents have been warned.
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It comes after council workers made residents get rid of doormats, framed pictures on the walls and banned some residents from keeping mobility scooters outside their own homes, all in the name of its new clear corridors policy.
The council says anything which could become an obstacle in the event of a fire has to be removed.
Now the new rules are being rolled out across the city, and this time it's residents' flowers that are in the firing line.
The new policy means that residents may no longer be able to decorate their doorways with flowers or keep mobility scooters and walking frames within convenient reach.
Council teams are going out and about to check properties.
But residents have spoken out against the new rules following letters and briefings at council properties.
At one meeting in St Peter's House, Jacob's Wells Road, residents of two council blocks say they were told that their flowers, some of which have been there for over 30 years, are now a threat and must be removed.
Tenants told the Post that an auditor – who is not a qualified risk assessor – will be visiting all community spaces and leaving stickers on "trip hazards".
Residents will then have 24 hours to remove the items, although there will be some flexibility.
If items are not removed, they could be taken away by the council, which would take "tenancy action" – with residents likely to end up in court.
Audrey Stazaker, 81, who has kept her flowers outside her front door for 30 years at St Peter's House, was told by a council official at the meeting that her plant pots could be targeted in the health and safety sweep.
Ms Stazaker told the Post: "We just want to add a little bit of colour to the place we live in. I've been living here for 30 years now and I've kept plants outside my home for as long as I can remember."
She added: "I can understand the rules but you would think we have got a whole garden out there."
Ms Stazaker's son, Paul Turner, wants the council to take a common- sense approach and allow plants which are in the building's natural recesses to be left alone.
He said: "These pots don't stick out any further than the building pillars at intervals all the way along the balcony. If the plants are a fire risk, then surely the pillars are as well.
"Bristol City Council seems to have a 'one size fits all' answer. I'm sure there must be a middle ground somewhere."
He added: "Getting rid of all the colour of the flowers makes a place like this such a sterile environment to live in."
In another council block on Creswick Road, Knowle, residents have also received a letter from the council warning them about the changes.
The letter, addressed to residents of Home Mead, invited tenants to a meeting regarding "phase three" of the new programme of regulations.
Margaret Green, 63, a tenant of Home Mead, told the Post that she had been informed her mobility scooter must be moved from the downstairs passageway, leaving her with the possibility of losing her only means of getting around.
She said: "It's terrible what they are doing. They are not thinking about the people involved.
"It's bad enough having a disability and not being able to get about in the first place."
She added: "With the amount of recesses we have in the building there's always a place to put it without it being in the way.
Ms Green said that her neighbour, Edna Davis, 90, has been asked to remove her walking frame from where she keeps it under the stairs.
Ms Green said: "If they make her take it away, she will have to put it in her flat where it will be a real hazard for an elderly lady trying to get around a small area."
In a letter to residents, seen by the Post, Bristol City Council said that the clear corridors campaign was the result of "Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) order 2005".
Pete Wood, a council spokesman, said: "As has previously been reported, the city council is implementing a clear corridors policy in all our residential blocks across the city.
"The reason for this is simple – the safety of our residents in the event of fire.
"We are talking to residents on a block-by-block basis to explain why we are introducing this policy, in line with national guidelines, and we will look at any individual issues and, where possible, try to find a solution.
"However, the safety of residents for which we are responsible has to come first and that is why corridors have to be kept clear."