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Hackney Homes' fire policy branded "ludicrous" by tenants is under review

PUBLISHED: 13:07 24 November 2014 | UPDATED: 13:07 24 November 2014

Barbara Roberts next to the plants she has been asked to remove. `

Barbara Roberts next to the plants she has been asked to remove. `

Archant

A policy ordering the removal of plants and washing lines from balconies is being reviewed by Hackney Homes after tenants branded the demands "ludicrous".

A policy ordering the removal of plants and washing lines from balconies is being reviewed by Hackney Homes after tenants branded the demands “ludicrous”.

Residents of Valette House, Hackney’s oldest block of flats, were warned their home grown produce and washing lines would removed within seven days, after being told that they are fire hazards which breach health and safety guidelines.

But now it has backed down and action was suspended while the policy is reviewed.

Disabled resident Barbara Roberts, 52, who has lived in the flats for 23 years, ironically enters the vegetables she grows on her balcony into the council’s annual Hackney In Bloom competition.

“One reason I like my plants is that it’s pleasing to see them when I’m unable to get out and down the stairs,” said Ms Roberts, who suffers from Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.

“We’re advised by the fire brigade not to dry our laundry on radiators. So where are we supposed to hang our washing? I can’t afford a tumble dryer.”

Another resident Marion Janeson, 64, said: “Their reason for removing washing lines was because the plastic lines are combustible. But the satellite dishes and aerials are all covered in plastic wires – why is there no issue there?”

Steve Dudeney, fire brigade borough commander, said, as the landlord, the council was responsible for fire safety.

But he added: “We always advise residents to ensure communal areas and exits are kept free of clutter.”

Cllr Philip Glanville, cabinet member for housing, said: “Items left in communal areas are potential fire risks and may cause obstructions for safe evacuation from a property.

“However, we are fully aware of the need to apply such policies in a considerate and balanced way. I have asked for this policy to be fully reviewed and until this has been done any further action has been suspended.”

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