A NORTH-East council has been held up as an example of health and safety gone mad by a Government minister.

Calling for a common sense approach, health and safety minister Mike Penning mocked North Tyneside Council for asking residents of Rockliffe Avenue, Whitley Bay, to remove an award-winning flower display.

He said: "Health and safety has long been used as a smoke screen by jobsworths who have little knowledge of the law and who want to fob people off with an easy excuse.

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"I want all councils and schools to take advantage of this advice from the Health and Safety Executive to make sure we get the right balance in the future."

Rockliffe Avenue residents won acclaim for their green-fingered efforts but last June North Tyneside Council said their planters were obstructing the pavement.