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Hung out to dry! Woman is banned from using washing line by Norwich City Council officers

PUBLISHED: 11:15 02 July 2014 | UPDATED: 15:41 02 July 2014

Margaret Jowsey has been told she is not allowed to dry her washing outside her Sleaford Green, Norwich flat as it is a 'fire or trip hazard'.
Photo by Simon Finlay.

Margaret Jowsey has been told she is not allowed to dry her washing outside her Sleaford Green, Norwich flat as it is a 'fire or trip hazard'. Photo by Simon Finlay.

Archant Norfolk.

A 70-year-old woman feels she has been hung out to dry - as council officers have banned her from using her washing line.

Norwich City Council sent a letter to resident Margaret Jowsey telling her that her washing line was a fire hazard and a trip hazard. Norwich City Council sent a letter to resident Margaret Jowsey telling her that her washing line was a fire hazard and a trip hazard.

Margaret Jowsey, of Sleaford Green, Norwich, said she has had a laundry line in the stairwell outside her top floor flat since she moved in 25 years ago and has never had any trouble.

But in a move she finds baffling, council bosses have ordered her to stop.

Officers at Norwich City Council claim the damp clothes are a fire hazard and fear somebody could trip over the washing line in the event of a fire.

A letter, put through her door last week, said: “Clear communal areas are also necessary to enable repairs and maintenance.

Margaret Jowsey has been told she is not allowed to dry her washing outside her Sleaford Green, Norwich flat as it is a 'fire or trip hazard'.
Photo by Simon Finlay. Margaret Jowsey has been told she is not allowed to dry her washing outside her Sleaford Green, Norwich flat as it is a 'fire or trip hazard'. Photo by Simon Finlay.

“As a landlord we try to work with our residents to minimise this risk”.

Ms Jowsey said: “They just put a threatening letter through the door.

“I’m on a low income so I can’t afford to go to the laundrette and I don’t have room for a tumble dryer.”

Ms Jowsey works three nights a week as a carer and said her own work involves health and safety.

A blooming odd decision

An award-winning gardener was last year told that her pot plants were a health and safety hazard and must be removed.

Council officers ordered Kerry Annison to remove her plants from a balcony which leads up to her former council flat in Norwich.

It happened months after she had been presented with a prize for them by the city’s Lord Mayor.

Council bosses said the area she has turned into a garden should be communal and that the gates, plants and pots could cause problems if people need to get out in a fire.

Speaking at the time, Ms Annison said: “I am horrified at being told I`d have to dismantle my haven for nature after quarter a century.”

A spokesman for Norwich City Council said they had to “ensure all communal areas are safe”.

But she feels that a washing line ban is a “stretch” beyond common sense.

“You could say there should be a sprinkler on the stairs,” she explained. “The postman has never hung himself up on our washing line, and when workmen come they’ve never had a problem.

“What’s this then? It’s a bit of power.”

She has lived in the second-storey council flat, for which she pays rent, since 1989.

Her flat does not have a balcony where she could put a washing line, and she does not want to dry her washing indoors for fear of mildew.

She has vowed to keep her washing line up, and has written to the city council.

“If they fine me I hope something can be done about it,” she said.

Her son Lawrence, 43, who also lives in the flat, said he is looking to start a petition.

“Sometimes you have to stand up for something you believe in,” he said. “That’s a laundry line.

“This ban is going against our human rights.”

Brenda Arthur, leader of Norwich City Council, said: “We are very happy to talk to Ms Jowsey about her concerns.

“We want to talk to residents and work with them to find alternative ways to accommodate their needs.

“Separately to this, I know Cllr [Bert] Bremner as the cabinet member for housing, has asked officers to carry out an immediate review on the use of communal areas to ensure that a common sense approach prevails”.

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