Page last updated at 18:57 GMT, Monday, 30 November 2009

Apology over gnome removal order

Garden gnome (generic)
Mrs Langford had placed the two gnomes in a communal area

Council chiefs have apologised after a woman was wrongly told to remove two gnomes on health and safety grounds from outside her flat.

Linda Langford, 57, was sent a letter by Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council also asking her to remove an ornamental tortoise.

She had placed the items in a communal area outside her flat in Tipton, in the West Midlands.

The council said there had been a misunderstanding of fire safety rules.

'Slightly misinterpreted'

The letter, from Sandwell Homes, which is part of the council, also ordered Mrs Langford to remove a "welcome" plaque along with the two gnomes, one of which was hitting an anvil while the other was reading a book.

The council's housing cabinet member Mahboob Hussain said that tenants in low-rise council flats should not face a blanket ban on ornaments in communal areas.

He said: "A Sandwell Homes officer visited Mrs Langford to discuss items in communal areas because we were reviewing our fire regulations in flats.

"Mrs Langford wasn't in and the officer left a note, which incorrectly asked Mrs Langford to remove the items from outside her flat.

"Sandwell Homes had slightly misinterpreted the policy on items in communal areas."

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