CHIGWELL: Anger at council demand to remove carpets
HOUSEPROUD people living in a tower block have defied a council deadline to get rid of carpets in their communal areas.
Barry Pettit, 63, stepped outside his flat on the 10th floor of Larchwood House in Manford Way, Chigwell, last month to discover a council team preparing to remove the carpet from the hallway.
He said: “I told them it was good carpet and there was no need to get rid of it, and they said they would go back to their bosses and check before removing it.”
But last week Mr Pettit received a letter from the council’s housing organisation, Redbridge Homes, informing him the carpets represented a fire risk and must be removed within four days.
He added: “They say they will come for an inspection to make sure we have got rid of them, but we are not going to.
“We have carpet on the floor, pictures on the walls and a coffee table, just to make it more homely.”
The row follows an attempt by Redbridge Homes to make families remove plants and play equipment from communal areas on the Orchard Estate in Woodford Green.
Tenants were told the objects were a fire hazard but the landlords backed down after protests.
Nabil Ahmedi, 40, of Larchwood House, said the council had got its priorities wrong.
He added: “If a fire breaks out it won’t be the carpet that causes it.
“I think they would do better to concentrate on something important like putting in smoke alarms.”
There has been a carpet on the sixth floor of the block for more than 30 years, and Barry McClinton, 64, paid £342 to have a new one installed outside his flat last year.
He said that fire safety officers gave it the all clear on a visit to the block last year, adding: “This threat to remove the carpet is ridiculous.
“The fire brigade told me it looked well laid and perfectly safe.”
A spokeswoman for Redbridge Homes said: "Following fire risk assessments by our contractors and in accordance with the revised Fire Safety Regulations, we have been advised by the Fire Brigade to clear all communal areas, including carpets.
"Failure to comply with these regulations could lead to Redbridge Homes being prosecuted.
"We have been liaising with residents over this and have explained why the areas need to be clear.
"There is a health and safety issue with items being stored or temporarily fixed in these areas which should remain clear.
"The presence of unauthorised carpets in common lobby areas does add to the fire loading of the building and presents an additional risk of compromising an escape route.
"This action is necessary to ensure the safety of our residents and members of the emergency services."