Nun sees off the doormat health and safety zealots
Health and safety enforcers have met their match in the form of a nun.
Sister Christine, a Roman Catholic nun, has campaigned for residents in the area since the 1980sPhoto: STIAN ALEXANDER
8:00AM GMT 12 Nov 2010
Sister Christine Frost told workers who tried to take away her neighbours' doormats and cut down their washing lines to tackle anti-social yobs instead.
Tower Hamlets Homes, which is responsible for council housing in the east London borough, started implementing new health and safety measures this week.
Its workers, accompanied by police, turned up at the Will Crooks Estate in Poplar to enforce the rules on Monday.
They even impounded children's bicycles chained to railings and pulled down hanging pot plants, all in the name of health and safety.
Their actions angered Sister Christine, a Roman Catholic nun, who has campaigned for residents in the area since the 1980s.
She said: "It's Big Brother gone mad.
"They cut washing lines and removed security gates and bikes, including at least one child's bike.
"They even took away hanging plant pots from walls and residents' doormats."
The Irish-born nun, who lives in the area added: "To focus on this ridiculous thing about washing lines and doormats is quite stupid when there is anti-social yob behaviour they should be dealing with.
"If they don't want us hanging out washing in view of Canary Wharf they should buy us all tumble dryers."
On Tuesday, scores of residents led by Sister Christine held a protest meeting demanding that their doormats, washing lines and bicycles be returned. Hours later, bosses at Tower Hamlets Homes apologised and explained that they were following what they thought was guidance from the Fire Brigade.
One resident, who did not want to be named, said: "They came mob-handed with police to take away our washing lines, doormats, pot plants and bikes.
"Anything that wasn't nailed down – and even stuff that was – they wanted to take away if they thought it was a health and safety hazard.
"Nobody could believe what they were doing."
Tower Hamlets Homes said the aim was to "carry out tenancy enforcement work including the removal of washing lines, bikes and other obstructions as a landlord to keep residents safe".
Jonathan Gregory, the chief executive, said: "I'm sorry about this. We don't want to cause offence."
He said the health and safety measures were now "on hold" and a team of workers would start talks with residents of the estate in the coming weeks.