CURTAINS, picture frames and pot plants are just some of the items putting pensioners at risk, according to Thurrock Council.

Residents at Rookery Court, in West Thurrock, are furious after receiving a letter from the authority saying all personal belongings in their verandas must go, even the carpets and ornaments on windowsills, because it presents a fire hazard.

Resident Peter Goldsmith, 63, said it has upset everyone there.

He added: “This is smacking us in the face. We feel like we are being treated like schoolchildren or geriatrics, which we are not.

“We all know this is about the fire in a London tower block which killed six people, but our verandas are not communal areas.

“The council built the verandas 12 years ago so we could sit on them and enjoy them. Now they will be unusable because we can’t have a chair and table, carpet, or even a picture frame on the wall.”

To add to the residents’ frustration they have also been told by the council they must keep their front and back doors shut at all times to prevent fire spreading, even in summer.

Labour ward councillor Andy Smith said the letter is crazy and thinks the residents should just ignore it.

He added: “ I’m totally against this looney idea. The council just doesn’t understand this block of flats is not the same as a tower block.”

Thurrock Council spokesman Andy Lever said: “We can understand the benefits that arise from items such as plants and ornaments being situated in communal landings and spaces, which help to create a sense of home.

“However, we have a statutory duty to make sure all of our tenants can escape if a fire should break out.

“We must, therefore, ensure all possible escape routes are kept clear and hazard-free.”