Chair row man is sitting pretty in South Tyneside Homes dispute

Philip Powell outside his home
Philip Powell outside his home

A retired mariner is sitting pretty at his South Tyneside home – three months after council bosses condemned his chair as a fire risk.

South Tyneside Council is trying to find a fold up chair which will allow Philip Powell, 62, to sit outside his home in Regent Court, Laygate.

The warning notice on the chair

The warning notice on the chair

He has stunned in February when housing chiefs warned him that the four-legged metal and wicker chair near his front door was a fire hazard and ordered him to remove it from the 8ft-wide passageway.

They told him they would contact him within a week to discuss alternative arrangements – but have yet to be in touch.

Mr Powell suffers ill health and has used the chair for over three years to sit down should he lose his breath after venturing outside.

As a concession, he has voluntarily moved the chair from near his front door to a corner of the passageway.

The former Merchant Navy chef said: “I have not heard anything back from the council and I hope I don’t. I hope that they have looked at the situation and that common sense has now prevailed.

“One of my brothers is a retired fireman and can’t believe what the fuss has been about.

“They had mentioned getting me a replacement seat which fits in with their regulations but I’ve not heard anything. I would rather have my own chair, but any is better than none.”

According to South Tyneside Homes, which manages South Tyneside Council’s housing stock, the issue has not been swept under the carpet. They say they plan to resolve the issue by buying him a permanent – and safe – seat.

A spokesman said: “We are trying to source a fold-up chair for Mr Powell which would not obstruct the landing. We would not want him to be without a chair until we have a suitable replacement.

“We have a clear landing policy as these areas need to be free of obstruction in case of emergency. We will meet again with Mr Powell in the very near future to seek to find a resolution.”

The rumpus began after two identical warning notices, stating ‘Illegal dumping under investigation’, were placed on the rusty chair.

Mr Powell claims it was done by an over-zealous official and that the local warden told him the chair was a fire hazard which had to be removed on health and safety grounds.

The bachelor was forced to retire from his job as a seagoing chef in 2000 after suffering a spinal injury, five years earlier.

He has lived in the one-bedroom flat for over 12 years and used the chair for three.

As well as his current chair, he says he had in place a wooden chair, two years before that, with no previous council concerns.