Friday, May 9, 2014
Council tenants told they must move their mobility scooters and recycling boxes from under stairwells say it is ‘health and safety gone mad’.
Disabled pensioners have been told their mobility scooters will be confiscated if they dare to leave them in corridors outside their council flats.
Scores of pensioners living under council care at Dray Court, in Rolle Road, have been threatened with eviction from their homes if they do not comply with new fire safety rules set out by the district council.
East Devon District Council issued the new rules after its tenanted flats were inspected by the fire service.
The council has threatened to confiscate any possessions found left under stairwells, in corridors or outside flats. They will be locked in a garage and residents must pay £25 for their return within a month or they will be destroyed.
The council said there was ‘no compromise’ where people’s lives were at stake.
Under the new legislation Dray Court residents are banned from parking their mobility scooters and walking frames in corridors outside their homes, or tucked away under stairwells.
Many residents, who have mobility problems and rely on their equipment being nearby, have been told to keep scooters inside flats or outside the building.
Residents, including a Naval World War Two veteran in his 90s who relies on his walking frame, have been warned they breach their tenancy agreement if they fail to comply – and could be asked to leave their home.
The rule change prohibits people from leaving prams, furniture and recycling boxes anywhere but inside their flats. Plastic plants and doormats on doorsteps must also be removed because they are deemed ‘fire hazards’.
Under the new rules residents have also been banned from storing bags of rubbish in previously allowed internal bin stores.
Valerie Drew, 79, said the new rules have forced her to swap her mobility scooter for a smaller model, which can be kept in the flat she shares with her husband, 81-year-old Gordon.
Mrs Drew fears her machine may be stolen if she leaves it outside.
She said: “It’s absolutely ridiculous. I get really, really cross and irate over it.
“My life is mine and it’s up to me how I live it. It’s not up to the council.”
Peter Bayliss, chairman of Dray Court residents’ association, said the new rules were ‘stressful’ and would cause ‘havoc’.
“It is health and safety gone mad,” he said. “We are not allowed to keep rubbish in our bin stores. They are going to be locked up so we can’t use them.”
An East Devon District Council spokesman said the tighter regulations had been prompted by a site visit from the fire service.
He said the council was complying with fire regulations, which were enforceable by law.
The spokesman said: “Not only does the council want to be a responsible landlord and meet its duty of care to tenants but we would be open to prosecution if we did not comply with fire service instructions.
“There can be no compromise when people’s lives are at stake.”