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Home   Medway   News   Article

Medway Council tenant told pot plants are a fire hazard

26 December 2013
by Jenni Horn

Brenda Brooks-Morgan has lived in a flat in Middle Row, Brompton, for more than 30 years and lovingly created a communal garden all the residents can enjoy.

The 62-year-old has also placed pot plants in the lobby and stairwell of the building to help brighten up the areas.

Brenda Brooks-Morgan with some of the pot plants she has been told she must move

Brenda Brooks-Morgan with some of the pot plants she has been told she must move

Her efforts have earned her several awards, including third prize in the council-run Medway in Bloom Awards earlier this year.

But now Medway Council has ordered Mrs Brooks-Morgan to remove the plants because they are a hazard.

Mrs Brooks-Morgan received a letter from the council, which stated that although pot plants make communal areas look more homely, they also cause a hazard.

She said: “I’ve been very particular about placing the pot plants in an area where they could not constitute a trip hazard or impede ingress in the possibility of a fire. My sole intention is to brighten the place up a bit, and other residents are appreciative of this.”

Mrs Brooks-Morgan has been told she must move the plants herself or the council will remove them and charge her to take them away.

“Health and safety? It is more like litigation prevention gone too far.” - Mrs Brooks-Morgan

Mrs Brooks-Morgan was also sent a copy of the fire risk assessment which divided items in communal areas into non-negotiable items, including rubbish sacks, washing machines and upholstered furniture, and those where an exception can be made, which included plant pots.

She said: “I’m quite devastated the council officer isn’t prepared to enter into any discussion on the matter and has taken it upon himself to instigate a blanket ruling that places my plants in the same category as shopping trolleys and gas bottles.

“He attempts to justify this with his final paragraph ‘I must stress that we are taking this action because your health and wellbeing are paramount and we have a duty to ensure that we mitigate any risks of harm’.

Mrs Brooks-Morgan said the pot plants are not causing an obstruction

Mrs Brooks-Morgan said the pot plants are not causing an obstruction

“As someone who suffers from manic depression, I can unequivocally state that my health and wellbeing has taken a considerable knock at seeing my attempts to beautify the environment swept away without any chance of recourse.

“Health and safety? It is more like litigation prevention gone too far.”

A spokesman for Medway Council said: “Medway Council is taking firm action to ensure fire safety in communal areas of its blocks of flats, following tragic fires elsewhere, which have resulted in the deaths of residents and firefighters.

“Following the annual risk assessment of communal areas, the council has identified that pot plants and other belongings often obstruct exits for residents if they are evacuated together.

“While we acknowledge that some pot plants may make areas look more homely, they can create a hazard. For this reason, we have asked tenants to remove them into their homes.”

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