Given the person quoted, I thought regular readers would like this story in today’s Sunday Express.
I wrote it before today’s fire at a tower block in in Bromley-by-Bow in which thankfully no one was hurt.
But I don’t think today’s incident in any way alters the “health and safety gone mad” argument in the Sunday Express piece. It concerns Dan McCurry and the houseplants he’s placed in the communal landing outside his flat in Clare House in Bow.
Dan McCurry is a Labour activist in the area and a regular commenter on this blog. He and fellow Old Ford Housing Association residents are a bit peeved by letters they’ve recently received. Similar letters have also been sent out by Tower Hamlets Homes, but I’m hoping they’ve got more common sense than Old Ford…
A GROUP of tower block residents has been ordered to remove the pot plants that spruce up their drab communal corridors… because they are a fire risk.
Tenants were told their pots in the ex-local authority building are “combustible” and would endanger the lives of firefighters if a blaze broke out.
Old Ford Housing Association, part of the Circle Anglia group, last inspected the plants about three years ago when leaseholder Dan McCurry wanted to enter them in a flower competition.
Legal executive Mr McCurry, 47, who lives on the 19th floor of the 21-storey block in Bow, east London, said: “They disqualified me from that, not because they were combustible but because they’re not flowers. They didn’t mention anything about fire hazards then.
“I’ve tested one of them outside with a lighter and I can assure everyone that they’re definitely not combustible. They’re just leaves.
“They make the place look nice. Without them, it would be just drab.
“It’s important to have decor here but they’re just being heavy-handed and lacking common sense.
“Pensioners are frightened to complain but they’re furious about what they’re being told. It’s bureaucracy gone mad.”
Old Ford sent out its health and safety letters earlier this month. It said it recognised its decision was distressing but it had a duty to act as a responsible landlord.
Its customer services team told Mr McCurry the fire at the Lakanal House tower block in south London four years ago, in which six people were killed, had changed the face of health and safety. They wrote: “The landings have to be cleared of everything, which includes the plants. Items that are deemed combustible must be removed.
“Our concern as a landlord in the first instance is the safety of our residents.
“The plants as well as other items have to be removed to ensure that we can get you out of the block in the event of a fire.
“When a fire breaks out, smoke is one of the main causes of death and when people are trying to escape they become disorientated and are not sure if they turn left or right and the smallest thing can be an obstacle for some of us, especially those that have poor or failing eyesight as well as other disabilities.
“We also have to ensure the safety of the firefighters when they are entering the block and trying to rescue people.
“I am aware that these letters that are sent out are distressing for residents and cause frustration but we all have to adhere to the rules that are set out so lives aren’t needlessly put at risk.”
An Old Ford spokesman added: “We took this decision following clear advice from London Fire Brigade.
“They advised that personal items in common parts and corridors must be removed. We understand our residents want to add a more personal touch, however it is in everyone’s interest that we put safety first. Taking these very simple steps could potentially be the difference between life and death.”
A London Fire Brigade spokesman said it was no longer its role to judge whether plants and other obstacles were risky. He said its job was to ensure landlords carried out checks and the landlord decided what was acceptable.