Families who have spruced up the areas outside their homes with flowerpots and other ornaments have been told by council officials they must remove them because they are fire hazards.

Officers have written to several owners and tenants living on an estate off Norwich's Heigham Street, ordering them to take away the items from near their front doors, following a safety review.

But the residents insist the decorations do not pose a risk.

They say the council should instead concentrate on tackling the flytipping which blights their neighbourhood and creates a genuine safety issue, rather than target those who are trying to improve the area.

They have been supported by a local councillor, who defended them for taking pride in their homes and called on City Hall to reconsider its flowerpot ban.

Tracey Stubbings, 41, who has lived on the estate all her life, is among those to receive a letter from Norwich City Council, telling her she must remove pots from outside her property.

Eastern Daily Press: Tracey Stubbings said she her flowers help brighten the place upTracey Stubbings said she her flowers help brighten the place up (Image: George Thompson)

"There's no sense in it. They've said we don't own the area outside the door so the flowerpots have to go.

"They complain about this but they don't tidy the gardens they are meant to care for.

"I just wanted three pots on my wall and four pots by my door. We're just trying to make it look nice, that's nice to be in. It just shows a bit of pride in my flat."

She said one of her neighbours had to remove injection needles and other drug paraphernalia from parts of the estate, despite reporting the items to the council.

Laura Landamore, 42, who owns her home on the estate, said the council had told her to also remove chairs and a short fence from outside her property.

The Russell Street resident has pleaded to keep the fence, which is used to stop her dog from falling through the second-storey bars.

"It's just a space for him to sit and chill," she said.

"I know it seems trivial but I don't have a garden. This is my little garden. The important thing for me is protecting the dog while I'm inside working from home."

"There's so much that needs doing in this area; fly-tipping, needles, glass everywhere but they want to remove some chairs from a balcony."

Ms Landamore, who raised the issue at a recent City Hall meeting where members of the public can ask questions, said the authority should only focus on items which represent a genuine fire risk or obstruction, rather than introducing blanket bans on ornaments.

Eastern Daily Press: Laura Landamore with her dog TobyLaura Landamore with her dog Toby (Image: George T)

Both Ms Stubbings and Ms Landamore said it was unfair that those living in ground floor flats did not seem to have been ordered to take similar items away from their properties.

Sandra Bogelein, a Green councillor for Mancroft, said she had been contacted by many residents, frustrated at having to remove ornaments.

"It makes a huge positive difference when council tenants and leaseholders take pride in their area and make it look welcoming with flowers.

"It improves their mental health, helps stop anti-social behaviour, and fosters a sense of community.

"With serious issues such as drug dealing, discarded needles and fly-tipping blighting council estates, a few plants on outdoor balconies surely should be low down on the priority for the council.

"Flowerpots are not the greatest threat and the council must be able to find a compromise, so residents can continue to enjoy their homes."

But a Norwich City Council spokeswoman said it would not be changing its position, which followed consultation with the fire service to ensure neighbourhoods were safe.

“We understand and appreciate that residents take pride in the areas around their homes.

"We help to support this through our estate improvements programme and the maintenance of communal gardens.

"This means we work closely with Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service on our approach to fire safety in council properties and always aim to work with residents to find the balance between making their homes a happy and safe place to live.

“At the same time, all local councils have a duty to keep communal areas free from hazards – for the safety of all residents as well as anyone else visiting multiple occupancy buildings.”