Residents of a South Hams sheltered housing complex have been forced to take down a Christmas tree – for health and safety reasons.

For the past 25 years, the residents have put up Christmas trees in both the foyer and the lounge.

The residents put the trees up as usual last Saturday, but were told on Monday the one in the foyer would have to come down as it posed a health and safety risk.

Joyce Champion, a resident of Waterside House in Ivybridge, said: “I’m very upset because some people can’t get out, so seeing the trees cheers them up.”

The tree in question normally stands in the corner of the foyer.

Mrs Champion went on to say that she feels strongly about the situation, as two years ago the residents were informed the chairs in the lounge were going to be replaced because they did not have the correct fire-resistant labels on them.

They are still awaiting the new chairs, with residents still using the original ones.

Suzanne Brown, executive director of neighbourhoods and customer service at LiveWest, which manages Waterside House, said: “We were asked if we would allow a Christmas tree to be put up in the entrance at Waterside House, but unfortunately this is an essential fire-escape route for the building and would pose a risk to residents should there be a fire.

“We love Christmas and want to get into the festive spirit with our residents, so we’ll be supporting them with the placing of a Christmas tree outside the building, which we’ll help fund.

“There’s also a Christmas tree in the communal lounge area, which isn’t a main escape route and is protected by doors.”

In response to the situation about the lounge chairs, Ms Brown added: “We’ve also been asked about the chairs in the lounge.

“All furnishings after 1988 were required to have fire-safety labels when they were sold, so we know these chairs, which were purchased approximately 15 years ago, are compliant.

“We understand that the labels were removed as they were thought to be unsightly.

“We’ve been consulting with residents about upgrading the chairs and we recommend that the labels are visible to provide assurance.”

Mrs Champion said: “I could understand if the tree was in the way, but it isn’t. The fact is, the residents love to see the Christmas tree there. The tree lights have been pat-tested and are safe. It’s double standards.”