Eccentric ordered to clear up 'fire risk' in his home

A MAN who describes himself as an "eccentric bookworm" has been told to get rid of his vast collection of novels, newspapers and academic literature because it is a fire risk.

Housing officers and fire chiefs have warned Roger Dyas-Elliott he is breaching the terms of the tenancy agreement on his council house, which contains more than 5,000 volumes.

They have also threatened him with legal action unless he clears some of the books, which are piled high in every room of his home, where he has lived for the past 55 years.

Mr Dyas-Elliott, said his collection includes everything from political and historical text books by academic writers to novels by his favourite author Dame Barbara Cartland.

The 63-year-old said he had a degree in history and culture from Sheffield Hallam University, and felt that he was being "victimised" by the authorities because of his hobby.

Council officials and fire service officers first raised safety concerns after visiting his two-bedroomed terraced house in Worksop, where he has no computers or TV. It was difficult to move around because of piles of books and found there was only a 12in turning space in the living room and limited access to the rest of the house.

Boxes of books are piled in an alleyway separating his house from a neighbour, creating what fire officers claim is a serious fire risk to the street. Mr Dyas-Elliott said : "I would say that 80 per cent of my collection is pure academic books and the rest is novels. I am rather partial to a bit of Dame Barbara Cartland.

"I live an independent eccentric lifestyle and that's my own business. I have told the council it will not be liable if I have an accident in my house, but they're not listening."

Station manager at Worksop Fire Station Mark Mortimer said the sheer volume of books created a "highly dangerous" situation for any rescue team in the event of a fire.

Bernard Coleman, managing director of A1 Housing which manages council houses for Worksop-based Bassetlaw Council, said : "We have no option but to take action to address the risks and ensure the property is made safe.

"Ideally we would seek to do this in conjunction with the tenant but if this is not possible we will pursue legal action to ensure his safety and that of his neighbours."