RESIDENTS in a sheltered housing scheme face losing their treasured water feature over “serious” health and safety concerns.

The fountain at Laburnum Grove in Burstead Close, Brighton, has been a source of pleasure for the past 15 years.

But now council bosses think it could also be a source of legionnaires’ disease, and want to fill it in with soil.

One resident is so upset they are threatening to sit in the fountain as a protest if workers turn up.

Bob Spacie, 68, chairman of Laburnum Grove Tenants Association, said: “It’s ridiculous. It’s health and safety gone mad. I am very frustrated about it and the residents are very upset.”

Mr Spacie said a member of Brighton and Hove City Council’s maintenance team had inspected it and declared it should be drained and filled in.

Mr Spacie said: “The guy was just quoting health and safety rules at me.

“This is just another step on the road to turning a once-vibrant living space into God’s waiting room, having already removed settees and chairs from corridor alcoves and replaced them with hospital waiting room chairs, all in the name of health and safety.

“They are turning it into an institution. How far are they are going to go in making life less pleasant for residents?”

About 50 people live in the block, with the oldest in her mid-90s and a few aged in their 80s. Mr Spacie said there was a plan to take the residents shopping to buy a new pump for the fountain because the old one was broken.

He said: “They were really excited about it. I think it’s cruel and totally insensitive.”

He claims other housing schemes could lose their fountains, too.

“I find it very strange that they shut down a little fountain in Hollingdean but we have fountains in Old Steine. Are they going to fill the war memorial in?”

Health and safety guidance states it is down to councils to reduce risk, but does not specify that fountains should be shut off.

A spokeswoman for the council said: “Water contamination issues are extremely serious health concerns.

“Fountains pose a significant risk of spreading contamination through the airborne particles they produce.

“This is why fountains are rarely seen these days next to public buildings housing elderly or vulnerable people. We do have serious concerns about it, and have a legal duty to safeguard our residents. However, we also understand the pleasure the water feature brings and are visiting the site next week to consider a way forward.”

The council said its health and safety policy is consistent with national guidelines.