Pensioners are at loggerheads with a housing association after being ordered to remove bars from their windows – despite being in place for almost 20 years.
Dennis Buckley, aged 81, says the security devices on the windows of his council bungalow in Sutton have suddenly become a fire risk according to Ashfield Homes, which is threatening to have them removed if necessary.
Mr Buckley and his wife Lo Wai, 68, moved into the property on Willow Crescent in 1997 and installed the bars shortly after.
He says that up until last year, the bars had never been an issue.
A risk assessment carried out by an Ashfield Homes inspector in April 2015 found no problems.
However, a further visit three months later flagged up the issue of the barred windows.
Mr Buckley says they can actually be removed from the windows within seconds.
He said: “We have control over preventing fire in our house, we have no control over burglars.
“They can easily be taken down, but the association has refused to accept that we can get out quickly, and they say they are coming to remove them themselves.
“I don’t think they have a legal right to do that.
“We have had six of seven letters, this is harassment.
“We are getting on, we’re in a bungalow where all the windows are obviously on the ground floor, the area’s all open plan so anybody could just walk up and climb in.”
Paul Bingham, a director at Ashfield Homes, said iron railings may pose a serious risk to occupants.
He said: “Following advice from our partner agencies, including Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service, we requested Mr Buckley to remove the railings to minimise the risk of entrapment in the event of a house fire.
“Unfortunately Mr Buckley has declined to remove them.
“Mr Buckley has not followed the requirements of his tenancy agreement by requesting permission to install the railings to his home, which would have been declined based on the design of railings installed.
“The safety of tenants is of paramount importance and we will engage with Mr Buckley until the matter has been satisfactorily resolved.”