Blind Southfields couple ordered to remove gate as it posed a fire risk
A blind couple have been ordered to remove a gate which stops their guide dog from escaping, because it posed a fire risk.
Allen Richardson, 71, and his wife Margaret, 75, of Princes Way, Southfields, use the gate to stop their dog Turner from escaping and to alert them whenever anybody is outside the flat.
The couple were granted permission to install the gate on the balcony of their flat 36 years ago.
But last month they received a letter from the council saying it must be removed because it posed a health and safety risk.
It threatened that if action was not taken a contractor would come and remove it, with the couple having to foot the bill.
Their next door neighbour has also been asked by the council to remove their gate for similar reasons.
Mrs Richardson was so shocked she called the fire station in West Hill, Wandsworth, to see what risk the gate could pose and a bemused fire man said he had no idea.
She said: "Given the chance Turner would escape. They said the dog must be kept in and can't go out.
"But it is security for us so we can hear somebody if they are in the building when it clicks.
"Turner is a large curly haired retriever, he is not just part of the family, he is important to us.
"I am an invalid these days and don't go out very often, we are in a difficult position and we need the gate to give us security."
A spokesperson for Wandsworth Council said: "We have listened to the couple's representations and are carefully considering the points they have raised.
"We are also liaising with the fire brigade to gauge their views on whether this gate would hinder people's escape in an emergency, which is our main concern.
"We have not made any final decision yet."