RESIDENTS have described an order by the council to remove pot plants from a block of flats in Exeter as "health and safety gone mad".
Tenants living in Southgate in Exeter said they were stunned to receive a letter from the city council telling them all plants had to be removed from communal areas as they constituted a fire hazard.
The warning from Exeter City Council's neighbourhood housing assistant Nikky Brooks said anything other than a small mat left outside the front door had to be removed by last Friday or it would be cleared.
But those living in the flats have hit back and said they were told a year ago they were allowed to keep plants provided it wasn't a fire risk.
Resident Marian Snow said: "Everyone is up in arms about this.
"Over the years we have been asked to remove items and have always adhered to the rules. The pot plants is the final item and it is completely bonkers. All they did was make the block look nice. We got rid of any that were a fire hazard a long time ago and the ones we had left were all in ceramic or metal pots.
"A lot of the residents here are elderly with no gardens and took great joy in tending to their plants. We just don't understand the reasoning of health and safety. How can plants on the top floor at the back of a building be deemed a hazard?
"They looked nice and they smelled nice. We adhered stringently to the rules and were told a year ago that we could have plants as long as we got rid of the plastic pots. Now they have come back to us with this, which is just stupid.
"If they were that concerned about health and safety maybe they should think about having a fire alarm for the block of flats. Surely that is more of an issue than a few plants."
An Exeter City Council spokesman said the block of flats was targeted specifically and each warning was issued on an individual basis.
He said: "This is about creating the right balance between allowing tenants to treat our properties as a home against the risks associated with items being kept in shared areas. The policy has been in place for a number of years and is enforced as we become aware of any issues.
"Tenants can keep non flammable small items in the communal areas providing they do not impact on anyone's exit from the flats through the shared areas in the event of a fire and limited visibility or as a trip hazard."