Those tomato plants are a fire risk!

Author: By Antony Stone, Press Association

Retired legal secretary Linda Ware, 61, of Cilfrew, Neath, South Wales, tried
to go self-sufficient by growing as much of her own food as possible.

But when she grew two bushy tomato plants in the entrance foyer to her council
flat she was amazed to be ordered to remove them – or else.

An estate manager called round and claimed pesticides and sprays used on her
plants were making people ill.

When she assured him that she had never so much as used a slug pellet he said
the plants were a fire hazard and should be removed anyway.

“I was absolutely amazed. As he left he handed me a bright green slip of paper
and said ‘This is for you. This is who I am’,” she said.

“I didn’t really pay too much attention at the time I was so amazed by the
killjoy attitude.

“But when I picked it up it had: ‘You have been visited concerning your
anti-social behaviour’ written on it.”

She said the council operate a green, amber and red warning system which
ultimately leads to an Anti-Social Behaviour Order.

Within a week of the visit Neath and Port Talbot County Borough Council sent
out a follow-up letter giving her seven days to remove the plants.

“It basically said that if I didn’t do it the council would take steps to do
it for me.”

She said she has since moved the tomato plants outside to the communal garden
used by residents of the block.

The divorcee, who has mobility problems, already uses the garden to grow and
array of vegetables in an effort to be as self-sufficient as possible.

She said she was angered by what she regards as an over-reaction when there
are serious problems, such as drug dealing in the community, which are
largely ignored.

Robert Rees, council head of housing and public protection, said: “The housing
service was contacted on behalf of another resident of the flats who is
asthmatic and was concerned that the tomato plants in the public area were
aggravating this condition.

“While I am not in a position to comment on alleged health implications, once
the plants were brought to our attention our housing officers asked the
tenant to move them either to the shared garden or into the flat itself.

“There is a very serious reason why we request that no items are left in the
internal communal spaces within our flats. Keeping staircases and foyers
clear of clutter is a key fire safety precaution.

“Staircases and foyers in flats have been designed to accommodate the maximum
occupancy of the building.

“Therefore, even if items are not flammable, their presence will increase the
risk of trips and falls for residents trying to escape in the event of a
fire.

“Similarly any clutter will hinder rescue services who are trying to gain
access.”

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