A West Midlands council has admitted to “misunderstanding” its fire and safety rules after ordering a tenant to remove two garden gnomes from outside her front door.
Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council apologised to Linda Langford after she was forced to remove two six-inch gnomes, a pottery tortoise and a welcome plaque from outside her flat in Tipton, West Midlands.
Local authority hawks said the ornaments were health and safety hazards that risked tripping people over in the event of a fire.
Mrs Langford told the Daily Express: “It is health and safety gone mad. It’s barmy.
“The idea that my two little gnomes are a fire hazard or that they are dangerous in any way is absolutely ridiculous.
“The council even told me to remove the doormat from outside my house. Am I supposed to tread mud all over my carpet because the council are panicking about fire hazards?”
But Mahboob Hussain, the borough’s cabinet member for housing, said the council “slightly misinterpreted the policy on items in communal areas.”
“Our policy is that as long as there is not an excessive number of gnomes or similar items in communal areas, and as long as there isn’t a problem with these items being damaged through anti-social behaviour, they can stay,” he said.
With recent guidelines like the taxpayer-funded manual instructing police how to ride a bike, perhaps Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council would consider publishing a no-expense-spared document outling its official policy on garden gnomes.
It is presently unclear what constitutes “an excessive number”.