A mum of child with M.E has slammed killjoy housing chiefs who have demanded she remove play swings from a communal garden.
Mother-of-two Michelle Linbourne, 42, has spent over £300 on swings, slides, a playhouse, a see-saw, a trampoline and a sandpit for her two young daughters.
She says that her eldest daughter Scarlet, seven, particularly relies on the play equipment to lift her moods, as she suffers from depression as a result of chronic pain syndrome M.E.
But the family are distraught after being told by their housing association that the equipment must be removed from their garden in Kingswood, South Glos.
Michelle, who lives with daughters Scarlet and Amber, said: “To them it’s just a few bits of equipment, but to me it’s my child’s life.”
The family live in a privately-rented property within a housing block that boasts more than 30 flats.
But the flats all enjoy the use of a shared garden, and some are owned by housing organisation Bromford, who have issued Michelle with the warning.
The housing organisation have given Michelle just 14 days to remove the equipment, claiming that it contravenes policy.
But the mother says she has never previously been made aware of that rule – and neither has her neighbour, former psychiatric nurse Tess Heaton-Byers, who has lived on the street for 23 years.
Tess, 50, said play equipment has been in the garden for the entire time she has lived on the street.
She said: “Obviously if we knew we weren’t allowed to have play equipment we wouldn’t have spent hundreds of pounds having it in our garden.”
According to Michelle and Tess, Bromford has demanded that the equipment is taken away within 14 days – otherwise the organisation itself will arrange for removal and charge an inflated price.
Michelle added that when she broke the news to Scarlet it had a dramatic effect.
“At the moment, because of all this stress, she has got mouth ulcers and she can’t sleep well because of somebody wanting to take her equipment,” she said.
“It’s so rare for a child to have M.E. and for her to have this taken away from her, it’s going to ruin her life.”
Bromford’s head of locality Natalie Robertson said: “We take our responsibility for the health and safety of our customers seriously and need to ensure that we minimise risks at all times.
“We understand that this is frustrating for our customers at Bibstone.
“But ultimately we are responsible for ensuring all our communal areas are safe and clear and that there’s no risk to anyone.
“Customers and their families are welcome to use the outdoor space at the flats to play and relax in but we ask that any play equipment is packed away after use.”