Health and safety gone mad as pensioners’ garden tables and chairs are banned

Maida Vale residents are blaming a “heavy-handed” health and safety culture after the council banned them from keeping tables and chairs in their communal garden due to “safety concerns”.

Residents of a housing block in Warwick Avenue say they will be forced to carry furniture down dozens of steps – causing even more of a safety risk – if they want to sit in the garden following Westminster Council’s orders to store all outdoor furniture inside.

Tables and chairs had been left out in the garden for everyone to use for more than a decade without any problems, say residents.

But residents of the block’s 70 flats were shocked earlier this month to find all the furniture had been piled up and placed on a path with a notice that the items would be “treated as refuse” if they were not removed immediately.

CityWest Homes, which runs Westminster’s housing stock, says it is responding to “safety concerns” about the furniture.

Secretary of Warwick Avenue Residents’ Association (WARA), Gerry Fitzgerald, 67, who has lived in the block since 1987, said: “They say it is about health and safety but that doesn’t add up because the tables and chairs have been there for so long and nothing has happened.

“At the moment the stuff is actually blocking the walkway so it is causing more of a safety problem.

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“If health and safety is the issue then they have to prove so but they can’t because it is not a problem.

“One lady in my block is 86 years old and partially sighted. They are saying that she could carry the chairs down to the garden herself but she can’t carry anything.”

Fellow resident and WARA vice-chairman Kathryn Nichols, 54, said: “It’s a nice little garden and people like to come out when the weather is nice.

“It’s not practical for people to be carrying tables and chairs if they live in a top-floor flat.”

Darren Levy, CityWest Homes’ customer services director, said they had received “a few complaints” from residents expressing safety concerns.

“One resident had witnessed plastic furniture being tossed about during a period of high winds,” he said.

“As it is a communal area, we must treat all complaints seriously, particularly if a resident or residents feel unsafe.

“We have made a number of proposals to the Warwick Avenue residents to improve the garden, such as applying for grants to supply and fit a wooden picnic table and bench for all residents to use, and securing it to the grassed area for added safety.”