Elf and safety - Pensioners banned from putting Christmas decorations up amid safety fears

A group of pensioners have been banned from putting up Christmas decorations, thanks to new “ridiculous” safety rules put in place by their housing association.

The residents claim they were banned from decorating the communal hall of their sheltered housing complex because of the fire risk and were ordered to take down the Christmas lights they have been using for the past nine years.

The OAPs, who live in the Rowan Court complex in Worcester, said they were told the new safety regulations have been put in place in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire earlier this year.

But Fortis Living, which runs the complex, says there is no ban on fairy lights – only new safety regulations for communal areas which do not apply to residents’ flats.

‘Ridiculous’ – residents have been banned from putting up Christmas decorations at their sheltered housing complex (Pictures: SWNS)

Resident Olive Knight, 77, branded the decision “nonsense”, saying: “I think it is a real shame that we are being told that we cannot celebrate Christmas how we want to.

“We were told that the lights are too low down, that they can’t be on the ceiling – it’s just nonsense. Fortis now say they are sending pictures to the fire brigade to check – it is very unclear.”

MORE: Hero police officer clung to crashed van with bare hands to stop it falling over motorway bridge
MORE: Christmas brings added pressure to drink and drive, survey finds

Her daughter Sarah North, 51, said the new rules had left residents “miserable”.

“It is Christmas for goodness sake,” she said. “They are being told they’re not allowed lights in the communal areas – why can’t they have them?”

‘Miserable’ – residents are allowed decorations in their flats but not in communal areas

She added: “They are miserable. Now they have been told to take down foil decorations as well. They can’t have anything except a tree.

“If they can have them in their flat, what difference does it make if they’re in communal areas too?

“It is bloody ridiculous. They are being treated like schoolchildren not senior adults. It is not fair for them.”

A Fortis Living spokesman said the new regulations were simply about safety.

He said: “We have absolutely no bans in place for LED lights or fairy lights. What we are putting in place are some fire prevention guidelines for trees, lights and decorations in communal areas.”

The new rules include “not to hang wreaths on doors that face into communal areas or to decorate communal corridors and landings”, he said.

Sue Heelas, assistant director housing and care at Fortis Living, said: “We know Christmas is a special time and we want to do all we can to make sure our tenants enjoy it in the safest way possible.

“Safety is always a priority for us, and in light of the tragic Grenfell Tower fire earlier this year, we want to be confident that the risk of fire is minimal. These communal area measures will help us to do just that.

“Tenants are free to decorate inside their homes as they wish, but we would encourage them to follow the same guidance.”