WISBECH: Carpets and decorations could go from communal area of flats, for health and safety

PUBLISHED: 15:20 30 January 2009 | UPDATED: 08:51 02 June 2010

Communal area of flats in West Street, Wisbech, which Roddons ordered to be cleared.

Communal area of flats in West Street, Wisbech, which Roddons ordered to be cleared.

ELDERLY residents felt the drab communal areas of their block of flats needed a face lift. Meticulously they fitted carpets into the reception area and along corridors and stairs. They even splashed out on vases, filling them with a colourful array of sea

Communal area of flats in West Street, Wisbech, which Roddons ordered to be cleared.

ELDERLY residents felt the drab communal areas of their block of flats needed a face lift.

Meticulously they fitted carpets into the reception area and along corridors and stairs. They even splashed out on vases, filling them with a colourful array of seasonal flowers.

They even went so far as to put pot plants inside the entrance door and for four years everything was fine.

But a recent inspection by the flats' new owners - Roddons Housing Association - has put pay to all that - after residents were ordered to return the flats to how they were. The association, which took over the homes in West Street, Wisbech from Fenland District Council, claim residents have broken health and safety regulations.

Communal area of flats in West Street, Wisbech, which Roddons ordered to be cleared.

And that means the carpets must be ripped up, the flowers removed and the pot plants thrown out.

"It feels like we are being penalised because we are looking after it," said Lionel Rand one of the residents who helped organise the face lift.

Mr Rand, 77, his other residents including Rose Nunn 78, Joan Maxey, 71, and Julie Rivett, 81, are now hoping to overturn Roddons' order and keep their decorations.

Mr Rand said: "The area is part of our homes and, as such, we look after it the same way.

Mrs Nunn said that, prior to the carpets being installed, she slipped on the concrete floor.

"I feel much safer with the carpet," she said. "If you do happen to fall over, it wouldn't hurt as much because carpet cushions your fall."

The residents say that signs advising them to keep communal areas clear were only hung up a couple of months ago, and workmen complimented the decorations when they recently visited to carry out maintenance work.

Letters were sent to all four residents last week from Debbie Tuckey, Roddons' neighbourhood officer who, unbeknown to them, visited the block.

The letter said: "I noticed the landings and hallways currently have a number of items within the communal areas including carpets/mats laid.

"These pose a fire risk or trip hazard and as such should be removed and disposed of."

Mr Rand added: "We want to keep it all, but we shall abide by what Roddons says is the law."

The residents have been given five weeks to get rid of their 'home improvements' at the West Street flats.

A spokeswoman for Roddons said: "Roddons Housing Association is committed to ensuring that all its residents have a safe place to live.

"Following a recent fire risk assessment at West Street, residents were informed that the carpets in the communal areas have to be removed to comply with The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005/Statutory Instrument 2005 No. 1541.


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