Doormats are a health and safety hazard - Leicester tower block tenants told
Council officials have told tower block tenants to remove doormats from outside their homes – because they are a health and safety hazard.
People in flats on the St Peter's estate, in Leicester, said they were bemused when a city council official knocked on their doors and issued the warning.
The official also pointed out that tenants should not leave other obstacles such as bicycles, pushchairs or mobility scooters in corridors.
Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service has backed the decision to issue the advice.
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However, St Peter's Neighbourhood Monitoring, a community group which uses its own cameras to film litterbugs and other forms of antisocial behaviour, has criticised the authority.
Albert Berer, a resident and a member of the group, said: "I had a knock on my door and it was an official from the council, carrying a clipboard.
"He told me I could not have a doormat outside my home because I might trip on it on my way out if there was a fire.
"I thought he was going to say then, 'it's all right, I'm only joking!', but it became clear that he was serious.
"It struck me as totally unnecessary, jobsworthiness. What can possibly be wrong with having a doormat outside your house? It is not a safety hazard.
"I think too many councils have a misguided grasp on health and safety. They are paranoid and make these decisions based on the fear of facing litigation."
He and other tenants have now taken their mats in.
But Mr Berer urged the city council to turn its attention instead to people who park illegally in the area, blocking access to the estate for the emergency services.
"That is the real fire safety issue here and that is what the council should be looking at," he said.
"If there was a fire here there is a good chance the emergency services wouldn't be able to get to us."
A city council spokeswoman said: "For the safety of all our tenants, we inspect our tower blocks once a week.
"We work closely with the fire service to make sure our buildings can be evacuated safely in the event of an emergency – and that means ensuring that communal areas are kept clear of trip hazards and combustible materials.
"Therefore, doormats should not be placed on the communal walkways outside flats.
"Our staff will also remind tenants that keeping buggies, bicycles or other items in communal areas is not allowed.
"We understand that tenants want to keep their flats clean, but we also need to keep our tenants safe.
"A doormat placed inside their front door will help keep their properties clean – and ensure that communal areas and evacuation routes are kept free from trip hazards."
Ian Lockyer, of the fire service, said: "If an area needs to be evacuated it is crucial that staircases and hallways are clear of all obstacles, including doormats.
"The city council is quite right in what it is saying. There should be nothing of a combustible nature or a trip hazard in these areas."