ELDERLY residents in a Golcar sheltered housing complex claim they are being driven mad by barmy new rules.
Health and safety is said to be running the lives of old folk at Sycamore Grange.
Residents say the new rules would be funny if they weren’t so daft.
The complex in Sycamore Avenue is run by Kirklees Neighbourhood Housing (KNH), Kirklees Council’s housing management company.
Residents have been told that:
Plants must not be allowed to grow too big
Slippers should not be kept behind doors
Doormats could cause people to trip
Wooden picture frames are a fire hazard
A wheeled biscuit tray in the lounge posed a potential danger.
But KNH insist the rules are there for safety purposes – and that many have been at the instigation of fire safety officers.
A spokesman said: “We realise some of these issues may seem a little strange, but we hope people can appreciate that we have to protect our tenants’ safety and make sure we are meeting our legal responsibilities”
One of the residents, who asked not to be named, said: “It’s all right saying it’s health and safety but people still have to live their lives.
“When is it going to be lights out at 9.30pm? This place is turning into a prison.”
The residents’ plight was revealed after the Examiner told how KNH rules also banned residents in its sheltered housing from charging mobility scooters in public areas.
That rule has also affected residents at Sycamore Grange.
Scooters, branded a fire hazard, have been moved from under stairs and corridors to be stored in the communal lounge – but residents are banned from charging them there.
David Townend, 67, whose 89-year-old mother Rose Varley lives at the complex, said: “I’ve never known a scooter to catch fire but of course the potential is there but so it is with a lot of things.
“We want people to be safe but you can’t go too far.
“There are so many silly rules you couldn’t make it up. It sounds nothing to us but when you’re old it preys on your mind. These residents just don’t need the hassle.”
Some residents keep plants and one man has tropical palms, which he brings in over winter.
The palm is already 6ft tall and he has been warned he should stop it growing any taller.
Another resident said: “We can’t believe what’s going on.”
A KNH spokesman said they had ongoing responsibility for managing fire and other risks.
“The reason we are talking with residents about these issues is not from any desire to be a ‘big brother’ bureaucrat but because there is a very serious possibility of routes of escape being blocked in a fire.
“Landlords can take one of two approaches to fire safety in flats – zero tolerance or managed use. KNH takes the latter approach because it still allows for some items that can make blocks of flats feel more homely.
“Nothing is automatically banned, but some things need permission because the risk has to be assessed. These are not ‘barmy new rules’ but result from long-standing fire regulations, British Standards and the best current guidance.
“For example, in two-storey blocks, pictures in frames, hardwood furniture and fire retardant fabrics are allowed, as well as fitted carpets, but items that pose too much of a risk or that may block evacuation routes are not allowed – this is especially important in retirement living schemes where residents may be more prone to trips and falls.”
The spokesman said the fire service had expressed concerns about mobility scooters being stored and charged at Sycamore Grange and asked for them to be moved.
She added: “The alternative would be to ban absolutely everything from communal areas, which would not be in anyone’s interests, least of all our tenants.”