‘We can’t have fire personnel being garotted by washing lines’ - council approves revised rules for Norwich tenants’ communal areas

Heathgate residents Bob Whitmore and Steve Barber with the planters secured to railings that Norwich

Heathgate residents Bob Whitmore and Steve Barber with the planters secured to railings that Norwich Council initially told them to remove. The council later said the planters could stay. Photo: Steve Adams - Credit: Archant

Revised rules offer a 'safe, secure and sensible' approach for what items and ornaments can be placed in the communal areas of Norwich council flats, a meeting has heard.

Norwich City Council's cabinet last night approved the re-worked policy, drawn up in response to accusations of a heavy-handed approach which saw some tenants told to remove plant pots from communal areas.

In one case Steve Barber, of Heathgate, said he was told by a council officer that the plant tubs he had mounted less than a metre from the ground on a railing outside his ground floor flat could hurt somebody if they came loose.

The council has now classified each of its 16,000 properties as either high, medium or low risk, or those with no risk at all, setting out what items are acceptable in each.

Chief executive Laura McGillivray acknowledged that it would have been easier to implement a blanket ban on items in communal spaces.

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However, Bert Bremner, cabinet member for housing, said the council needed to take into consideration that many people did not want their communal areas to be 'bare, sterile spaces', and this had to balanced against ensuring that they were safe for residents and for emergency services in the event of an emergency.

Council leader Brenda Arthur said £30,000 would be used for signs and leaflets to help explain the safety aspects to tenants and added: 'We can't have fire personnel being garrotted by washing lines and we can't have people being put at risk.'

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But she said: 'Councillor Bremner has worked very hard to come to a compromise which allows people to have areas which are homely, but which also have to be safe.'

What do you think of the new rules? Write (giving your full contact details) to: The Letters Editor, Norwich Evening News, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email eveningnewsletters@archant.co.uk

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