RESIDENTS in a sheltered housing block in Winchester are angry that the council could take away plants and other items in communal areas.

Elderly residents at Hyde Lodge say that Winchester City Council plans to remove plants and other items are "health and safety gone mad", and they have called for a rethink on the plans.

One resident is Raymond Hiskett,74, who says his much-loved plants which are in a communal garden outside his flat are at risk.

He says that residents feel they were not consulted about the plans.

Mr Hiskett said: "They told us they have taken our door mats from the doors and they have taken hooks from the doors so they can't be hooked open because apparently its for security.

"They have told us that we can't have pot plants in window sills for health and safety.

"They think we are stupid and we can't look after ourselves."

"We want to know why they seem to be targetting the elderly - why can't they leave us to lead our lives the we we want to lead them, we are in our 70s.

"I think it is health and safety gone mad".

Another resident, Peter Hargreaves, 81, who has been a resident at Hyde Lodge for 14 years, says he also can't understand the proposals.

Mr Hargreaves said: "I just can't see the real purpose of it. I thought they would go out of their way to encourage residents to make places nice to live in.

"As for the pots here, I can't see how they could cause an accident."

In a letter sent to tenants by Winchester City Council, it stated that there is difficulty using communal gardens and paths at older person accommodation sites in the district because of the large number of pots and garden ornaments placed by tenants.

The letter stated: "The communal gardens are for all residents to enjoy unobstructed. Whilst we see the benefits of tenants having a few pots along the edge of the building or in a shrub bed they should not be excessive in number. Tenants are required to ask permission for any improvements including placing pots in the communal gardens under their tenancy agreement.

The letter goes on to state that pots and ornaments are a "potential trip hazard" and may reduce access for both residents and emergency services.

A spokesperson for Winchester City Council said: "The City Council positively encourages residents to take pride in the areas where they live and within reason would always support efforts by residents to enhance communal gardens through their own planting and gardening.

"This week, three sheltered schemes have been awarded joint first prize in the annual garden competition in recognition of the excellent results achieved through residents improving communal gardens for everyone to enjoy.

"It is important that communal gardens are well maintained and safe for everyone to use. There have been a few incidents recently where plant pots obstructing footways have resulted in accidents and others have blocked access for grass cutters.

"We are simply asking residents to be considerate of others and to let us know when they wish to help improve the areas outside their flats.

"The council will seek to support such requests but in a few cases will need to ask residents to move items that block access or are left in unsafe positions.”