Doormat seized as 'health and safety risk'

Ashley Tofte and Jade Bunce

A council confiscated a young couple's doormat and then demanded £40 for its return, after claiming it was a health and safety hazard.

Ashley Tofte and his fiancée Jade Bunce, both 24, arrived home at their two-bedroom flat in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, to find the mat missing and a note from Dacorum Borough Council.

You have until 21.12.16 to collect your items and pay the £40 charge that covers removal services and storage costs," the note read.

"It is our legal duty to keep these areas clear of hazards and combustible materials."

Health and safety myths warning

Mr Tofte tells Hemel Today that he was astonished. "I thought one of the neighbours was playing a prank," he says.

He's appealed against the decision, but has been told he must still pay the charge and collect the doormat.

'Health and safety' is frequently given as a reason for some bizarre bans - so much so that the government Health and Safety Executive has a dedicated website devoted to busting some of the more ridiculous myths.

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Recent examples include a cafe that refused to sell untoasted fruit bread and another that banned parents from using dummies.

The offending doormat

But these aren't the worst examples we've come across: here are our top five unnecessary bans.

Morris dancers
Three years ago, Lancashire County Council banned a troupe of Morris Dancers from performing in the street, bringing a 100-year-old tradition to an end. Officials had apparently spotted photos of the event, and took exception to the fact that some onlookers were standing in the road.

Bare chests
Around the same time, a Tesco branch in Devon decided to ban scantily-clad people from the store. While this might seem perfectly reasonable on the grounds of good taste, the store gave a different reason: that people might sweat on the produce.

Home baking banned at charity sale

Play equipment
Earlier this year, a £50,000 children's playground in Edinburgh was closed after just one complaint. The council decided that there was a danger that children might fall from a timber tower, and that they might fall over in icy conditions.

Walking on grass...
In October, residents of Pontypool in South Wales were told they would have to collect their mail from the nearest Post Office. The reason? Because delivering to the door meant crossing a small patch of grass. Apparently one postman complained it was slippery when wet.

...or cutting it with a strimmer
Earlier this year, Cheshire East Council decided that strimmers were too dangerous for its staff to use. After what it described as 'a number of near misses', it ordered them to use weedkiller instead.


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