Page last updated at 21:14 GMT, Wednesday, 15 July 2009 22:14 UK

'Asbo' warning over tomato plants

Linda Ware
Linda Ware was told her tomato plants were a fire hazard for the block

A grandmother growing two tomato plants in the entrance foyer to her council flat has been given a warning about her "anti-social behaviour".

Linda Ware, 61, of Cilfrew, Neath, was sent a letter a few days later reminding her to remove the plants.

The retired legal secretary has moved the plants to a communal garden but said it showed a "killjoy attitude".

A council spokesman said: "Keeping staircases and foyers clear of clutter is a key fire safety precaution."

Ms Ware said she already grew vegetables in the communal garden and did not use even slug pellets on her tomato plants.

She said she was handed a bright green slip of paper by a council official after claims that sprays on her plants were making people ill.

She added: "I didn't really pay too much attention at the time, I was so amazed by the killjoy attitude.

Even if items are not flammable, their presence will increase the risk of trips and falls for residents trying to escape in the event of a fire
Robert Rees, Neath Port Talbot council

"But when I picked it up it had: 'You have been visited concerning your anti-social behaviour' written on it."

She said the council operated a green, amber and red warning system which ultimately leads to an anti-social behaviour order.

Neath Port Talbot council's head of housing and public protection, Robert Rees, said: "The housing service was contacted on behalf of another resident of the flats who is asthmatic and was concerned that the tomato plants in the public area were aggravating this condition.

"While I am not in a position to comment on alleged health implications, once the plants were brought to our attention our housing officers asked the tenant to move them either to the shared garden or into the flat itself.

"There is a very serious reason why we request that no items are left in the internal communal spaces within our flats. Keeping staircases and foyers clear of clutter is a key fire safety precaution.

"Staircases and foyers in flats have been designed to accommodate the maximum occupancy of the building.

"Therefore, even if items are not flammable, their presence will increase the risk of trips and falls for residents trying to escape in the event of a fire.

"Similarly any clutter will hinder rescue services who are trying to gain access."



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