Told to remove everything from communal hallways

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Friday 6 October 2017 2.27pm
LongLane wrote:
Astonishing attitude given the rule is for yours and others protection. I hope you never have to suffer a building fire and find out the potential consequences of this attitude.
Do you also smoke at petrol stations?

I'm not astonished; I think it's disproportionate to ban doormats. The majority of domestic fires are caused by electrical faults. People don't seem to be calling for electrical appliances to be banned.

I would stick my neck out and guess that doormats contribute very little towards fire-related injuries. I can see that in particular places they create a trip hazard, and can understand why a litigation-conscious landlord would therefore ban them. But being as we don't live in a totalitarian regime I would leave people to use their own judgement over something so trivial.

If you assess risks in the form of 'probability of harm' multiplied by 'severity of outcome' you will see that smoking at petrol stations is notably more risky than having a doormat outside your flat.
Friday 6 October 2017 6.57pm
They contradict themselves, we got letter stating nothing can be kept out there, and they tell you this...4. Managed Approach This approach involves the publication of clear guidance to residents and staff which clearly defines what can be kept in which common parts. This could allow for:

Potted plants
Door mats

We are not allowed to have our doormat out there now, they even want people to remove stuff from their outside store cupboards. so they are empty.

Jules62 wrote:
Southwark has made a 'one fits all' decision on fire prevention enforcement.
This is what I received from them:

"You, like many of our tenants have been responsible in the way you manage items in the communal areas. The items you mention are not combustible and they are probably not a trip hazard. You (like many individuals) have attempted to make the area look nicer and in years gone you may have been helped by Southwark Council to do this.

There are two approaches that a housing provider can take in the common areas (escape routes) and they are;

1. Zero Tolerance This is an approach where residents are not permitted to use the common areas to dispose or store their personal belongings or rubbish. No exceptions apply and this ensures that that the common areas are effectively sterile

2. The benefits of this approach are:

It is simple to adopt
It reduces the risk of accidental fire or arson
There is no ambiguity
It allows for more effective management, particularly considering the size and complexity of our stock.
The LFB prefer this approach
It makes risk assessment easier
It reduces the liability of Southwark Council and is line with the Tenancy Agreement.

3. The disadvantages are:

No room for discretion for example plant pots, window boxes and so may be disproportionate to the risk
May penalise those residents caring for and improving their immediate environment
It may involve mixed messages the Council has held competitions for best flat in bloom, has installed gates across walkways
It will not be popular with residents and will require a lengthy and consistent marketing campaign to reinforce the risk from accidental fire and arson alongside enforcement activity.

4. Managed Approach This approach involves the publication of clear guidance to residents and staff which clearly defines what can be kept in which common parts. This could allow for:

Potted plants
Door mats

But not:
Petrol engines (scooters etc)
Mobility Scooters
Large obstructions

5. The benefits of such an approach include:

It allows for the varied design, shape and size of our common balconies and walkways
It can foster a sense of pride and ownership amongst residents
It may deter anti-social behaviour

6. The disadvantages include

It will require a detailed set of guidance and consistent application of those with a clearly defined policy statement.
There is scope for ambiguity
It increases the risk of accidental fire or arson
It may promote anti-social behaviour

I was employed here two years ago following thirty years in the fire service and I have attempted to maintain a managed approach in that time but it has failed hugely due to a large growing minority of people that have completely abused the system and taken a huge amount of time from the Housing Officers who have tried to make those people comply..

The recent tragic events at Grenfell have completely changed the landscape and the enforcing authority (London Fire Brigade) and us at the Fire Safety Team are taking a zero tolerance approach to all items in the escape routes to ensure that there is a consistent approach across our stock. We are also making sure that tenants keep their private balconies to a manageable level with limits placed on what can be stored there too. This is not the only thing we are doing as we are now undertaking intrusive and destructive surveys in the escape routes and within peoples homes to ensure we have effective separation throughout the building.

My remit is solely to keep people safe and as I have no budget this gives me the ability to ask for whatever I want. I completely understand the reasons for plants because it makes the place look homely but I have to think of everyone now and having experienced a large number of fires in our common areas both in the fire service and here I will no longer accept residents being put in danger by a significant number of people who just do not want to comply.

Again, my apologies to you and the people who have tried to comply in the past.

Kind regards"


I personally find this a very high handed approach, and feel that each block/property should be individually assessed so that a tailor made solution can be devised.
Saturday 7 October 2017 12.34am
boroughbloke wrote:
You either have a policy or you don't. I think it is perfectly reasonable to demand tenants in any building, be it council, private, residential or commercial, do not put anything in areas that are not theirs to put things in and are communal escape routes that should be sterile in terms of flammable content. The idea there should be a tailored solution to each block is absurd.

Here in Draper House, on the Draper Estate, we have been told that we must clear out all communal areas, including what used to be the clothes drying points located at the far end of our landings.

These locations are not a passageway nor an escape point, so nothing within them constitutes an obstruction, and (as can be clearly seen in these pictures I took myself), neither a fire hazard.

On Draper we take pride in our home (and by home we don't just mean our individual apartments, but the entirety of our buildings and all the surrounding areas that make up the estate), and many of us take steps towards making this a nice, warm, and welcoming place.






Yet the 'one size fit's all' approach means that not two, not even one monkey is given by Southwark as it railroads its hi-handed scheme with disregard to all common sense.

For the benefit of those not familiar with the architecture of Draper House, these enclosures protrude from the building, and lead to nowhere:



We have requested to meet with the Fire Safety Officer to discuss this, and are awaiting a response.
Saturday 7 October 2017 8.45am
I think your mini gardens look lovely Jules, you need plants and flowers to humanise concrete buildings. It's not as if your mini greenhouse is growing illegal substances!

When living in a twelve storey block we had plants in the small area near the chutes. Some tenants carpeted the landings , four flats to each landing. The surface of which was thermoplastic tiles which when wet caused a slippery surface, don't know what Southwark would say about the carpet today..
Saturday 7 October 2017 12.13pm
I understand the reason but it's a shame about the doormats. They provide colour in otherwise sterile environments. I like seeing them and what they suggest about the character of those that have them.

I've also lost my cupboard which for eighteen years has been a combination of store cupboard and cloakroom/change of clothes when having (legally) others stay there.
Saturday 7 October 2017 1.35pm
Once this purge is over, who will police it from day to day? I have a sneaky feeling that the prams and scooters will reappear, unfortunately, the abiders will have lost their plants etc.

I really don't understand why Jules and co at Draper have to clear that little alcove. Seems a perfect place for a fire resistant deck chair....

One mad idea I had about security gates, I accept that some people have them for security while they are indoors but I would venture to suggest that most people have them for peace of mind when they are out. How about if the gates are unlockable from the inside? They have a leaver handle on both sides and, when indoors, the gate would click shut (still looking like Fort Knox but unlocked).
Saturday 7 October 2017 2.43pm
boroughonian wrote:
One mad idea I had about security gates, I accept that some people have them for security while they are indoors but I would venture to suggest that most people have them for peace of mind when they are out. How about if the gates are unlockable from the inside? They have a leaver handle on both sides and, when indoors, the gate would click shut (still looking like Fort Knox but unlocked).

I think the fire brigade want rid of them so they aren't impeded when trying to battle through a burning building. Which seems fair enough to me, although I haven't had too many security problems fortunately.
Saturday 7 October 2017 2.57pm
PeteStaples wrote:
boroughonian wrote:
One mad idea I had about security gates, I accept that some people have them for security while they are indoors but I would venture to suggest that most people have them for peace of mind when they are out. How about if the gates are unlockable from the inside? They have a leaver handle on both sides and, when indoors, the gate would click shut (still looking like Fort Knox but unlocked).

I think the fire brigade want rid of them so they aren't impeded when trying to battle through a burning building. Which seems fair enough to me, although I haven't had too many security problems fortunately.

Yes, fair point, I was thinking along evacuation lines, forgetting the small matter of putting the fire out.
Monday 9 October 2017 9.47am
Jules, that alcove looks really lovely and welcoming and making use of that redundant space. In their letter, the council say that plants are flammable... But it is ok if they are hanging over the balcony, not resting on the floor. It cost me over 100 to get overhanging pots which sadly are not as deep, so plants do not thrive in them as well... Hope the council doesn't remove them one day...
Monday 9 October 2017 12.36pm
In aylwin estate on the first floor tenant hung his bicycle on the outside of balcony railings!
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