Flaming row over flowers in Rainham

Havering’s housing management organisation has been slammed for going health and safety mad over flowers a resident has been told to remove because they pose a fire risk.

Paul Harris was told by Homes in Havering (HiH) to remove the flower troughs and hanging baskets on the balcony outside the front of his maisonette in Canfield Road, Rainham, as part of a borough-wide clear-up of clutter resulting from a fire safety survey earlier this year.

But Mr Harris said HiH’s new approach was “extremely petty” and “totally unnecessary”.

Mr Harris said: “Several of us have made a big effort to get some colour outside our homes. Now we’ve got to take it all down. It’s cost us a few bob to get it looking like this and now it’s just going to be destroyed.

“They’ve been up for at least 15 years and the council were OK with it at the start.”

As part of the clean-up items which could be a “potential fire and safety risk” including pushchairs, prams, bicycles, potted plants and framed photos will no longer be allowed in communal areas of HiH properties.

But Mr Harris argued because his property is at the end of a row and there is no exit or need for anyone to walk as far down the landing as his property (unless visiting him) he did not understand the reasoning behind HiH’s demand.

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Mr Harris said: “They say it’s a fire hazard. I say that’s wrong. I’ve got a lot of respect for the fire brigade and fully appreciate the job they do but they haven’t been around in quite a while to do an assessment and I’ve not seen anyone else doing an audit.”

He added: “But I don’t see what the problem is. We’re at the end of a row. I can still escape from a fire. What they’re picking holes at is so petty it’s ridiculous.”

He’s been given written notice to remove it all by November 28 or the council will clear it for him.

A spokesman from Homes in Havering said: “Homes in Havering’s commitment to ensuring the safety of its residents by requiring them to keep landings and other communal areas clear is fully supported by the London Fire Brigade and we are also working with a number of other housing organisations on the issue.

“Working closely with the London Fire Brigade and residents, Homes in Havering earlier this year carried out a safety survey of our properties which found that escape routes for residents could be further improved by removing residents’ personal items from landings and other communal areas.

“Homes in Havering has arranged to meet Mr Harris to discuss his situation.”

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