Scarborough tenants told to remove welcome mats

Longwestgate Flat owner Pauline Arnell with her Yorkshire Coast Homes Letter explaining new rules about decoration outside the property Landing area 112225a  Picture  Richard Ponter  '1/06/11

Longwestgate Flat owner Pauline Arnell with her Yorkshire Coast Homes Letter explaining new rules about decoration outside the property Landing area 112225a Picture Richard Ponter '1/06/11

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SCARBOROUGH tenants have been told to ditch welcome mats, plants and pictures outside their homes – on the grounds of health and safety.

Tenants of Yorkshire Coast Homes have received a letter telling them about the new policy, which has came about as the result of a fire in a district of London.

Devastated residents say they will battle to keep the display items, which they claim harm no-one and improve the homeliness of their properties.

Pauline Arnell, who has cultivated flowers outside her home in Longwestgate for years, said: “There is enough space between our flowers and the railings for anyone to get past.

“They are not causing an obstruction and they aren’t dangerous.

“But they have said it all has to go. They just make it look welcoming. For some elderly residents who can’t get out much their only pleasure is their pots and plants.”

As part of Scarborough in Bloom, Yorkshire Coast Homes runs a category for residents who garden solely or predominantly in containers.

Residents claim this contradicts the ban which they will now impose.

Scarborough resident Jon Smith added: “I think it’s ridiculous - it’s health and safety gone mad. A lot of the residents are elderly and are quite upset.

“I think it’s draconian and heavy handed to treat people like that. A lot of elderly people store their walking frames under the stairwell - where’s the fire risk in that?”

In the letter which was sent to residents, Lee Colclough of Yorkshire Coast Homes said: “We have a responsibility as an owner and landlord to ensure the structure of buildings and communal areas meet fire and safety requirements.

“Tenants over the years have made communal landings more welcoming by placing rugs and plants in the areas. Provided this was not felt to compromise safety, this has been allowed.”

However Mr Colclough added that following the fatal fire in Croydon, revised legislation had been put in place and other social landlords had already taken action.

He said Yorkshire Coast Homes had “no alternative” other than to tell all tenants to remove the items from communal areas within four weeks.

Cllr Janet Jefferson spoke to concerned tenants at a meeting of Castle Ward Tenants’ and Residents’ Association earlier this week.

She said: “It does seem harsh. Yorkshire Coast Homes have always been keen to encourage residents with this type of thing and I hope we will be able to work constructively with them to find a way forward.

“You can understand where they are coming from in the letter, but we need a bit of common sense.”

At the same meeting, Cllr Jefferson’s fellow ward councillor Colin Challen added: “It is hard to see how a doormat is going to be an obstruction. I think we should get clarification on this.

“With nothing in them some stairwells could be so uninviting they would not be nice places to come home to.”