U-turn for fundraiser threatened with Covid fine for Christmas lights
Festive fundraiser, 46, who was threatened with £10,000 Covid fine by killjoy police for putting up Christmas lights display is allowed to switch it back on after angry backlash
- Trevor Payne, 46, set up annual Christmas lights display this year to raise money for mental health charities
- But the full-on festive display, in Cheslyn Hay, Staffordshire, was drawing ‘large gatherings’ outside his home
- Police chiefs said gatherings could be a breach of the area’s strict Tier 3 rules – which bans households mixing
- The force says it is is allowing drive-by visitors to Mr Payne’s, making the Christmas lights display Covid-safe
A festive fundraiser who was threatened with a £10,000 fine over his ‘covid rule-breaking’ Christmas lights display has been allowed to switch them back on again after a U-turn by police and council bosses.
Officers previously claimed Trevor Payne’s full-blown festive lights – which he puts up each year to raise money for mental health charities – were drawing ‘large gatherings’ outside his home in the Tier 3 area of Cheslyn Hay, Staffordshire.
The 46-year-old turned off the lights after being told to expect a maximum fine of £10,000 if the crowds who turned up to see the illuminations continued to gather on the roadside and his driveway.
However the father has now been told he can switch his seasonal display back on, following an embarrassing U-turn by red-faced police and council bosses after an angry backlash from the public.
Town hall chiefs are now asking families to enjoy the lights by driving past them in their car along Kestrel Way, with visitors are banned from walking on Mr Payne’s driveway and asked to donate to a mental health charity online.
Festive fundraiser Trevor Payne, 46, (pictured) who was threatened with a £10,000 fine over his ‘covid rule-breaking’ Christmas lights display at his home in Staffordshire has been allowed to switch them back on again after a U-turn by police
Dad-of-two Trevor, who previously branded the police ‘Grinches’, wrote on social media: ‘After working together with the council and police we have managed to come to a compromise to allow my lights to go back on.
‘Unfortunately you will not be permitted to walk down the driveway but can drive past or park up and walk past to view the lights.
‘Please follow the temporary traffic direction arrows to try and ease congestion at busy times and park responsibly respecting neighbours and residents.
‘Covid government guidelines must be adhered to at all times, your co-operation will help to keep the lights switched on so everyone can enjoy some Xmas joy.’
Police did a U-turn allowing the lights to switch back on after previously warning the 46-year-old that the gatherings outside his festive-themed home (pictured) could be breaching Covid rules for the area – which is in Tier 3
Residents in the area have slammed the force for ‘spoiling the small amount of festive joy’ they could experience this year. Pictured: The festive lights outside Mr Payne’s home
Officers previously said Mr Payne’s full-blown festive lights – which he puts up each year to raise money for mental health charities – were drawing illegal ‘large gatherings’ outside his home
Pictures show families standing outside the brightly-lit semi-detached house before police intervened – sparking Mr Payne to switch-off the lights.
Speaking earlier this week after he was told to switch off his light show Mr Payne said: ‘No-one has anything else to do because of coronavirus and this was bringing a bit of joy, but now I’m having to turn people away who have come to see it. The kids have been left in tears, it’s heartbreaking.
‘I can see why some neighbours might not like having an increase in traffic. But for the sake of two or three weeks, and the amount of happiness it brings and money it raises, you’d have thought they’d be able to put up with it.’
Staffordshire Police say officers got involved after receiving calls from people in the area.
Pictures show families gathering outside the lit-up house and police visiting following a number of complaints from people in the area over the weekend
Police attended the address (pictured left and right) over the weekend after three complaints. Police say Mr Payne agreed to switch off the lights for the night before they worked with him to make the display Covid-safe
Residents in the area slammed the force for ‘spoiling the small amount of festive joy’ this year
Residents in the area slammed the force for ‘spoiling the small amount of festive joy’ they could experience this year, before the news that the lights would be illuminated again in a covid-safe manner.
Anne Marie Beckett, 32, said her daughter Serena, three, and five-year-old son Bobby had been ‘loving’ the lights before officers turned up on the road earlier this week to shut it down.
She said: ‘I think it is disgusting to be honest.
‘Most people were wearing masks and social distancing in a one-way system through the garden. It felt really safe and was beautifully decorated.
‘It was the first time we’ve been to this one and it’s one of the best we’ve seen.
‘Everyone was just trying to give their kids a little taste of Christmas and then the police turned up.
‘We were just trying to get some Christmas spirit for the kids and now they have spoiled the small amount of festive joy we could enjoy this year.’
She added: ‘These people are selflessly raising money for Young Minds. They are doing their bit for a mental health charity, which really needs support at the moment.’
Another local resident Sam Bartlett, 36, added: ‘You’ve got people going to football matches but you can’t take children to see some Christmas lights to donate to a good cause.
‘It just seems backwards. I’m not one of these Covid deniers and if it didn’t feel safe I would not have taken the kids.
‘But he had hand sanitising stations, markers down and a one-way system in place – it was more sensibly laid-out than some shops and pubs I’ve been to.’
Mr Payne is hoping to raise around £1,000 for the charity Young Minds with his display, pictured after the shutdown
Mr Payne was hoping to raise around £1,000 for the charity Young Minds before the shutdown with a physical donation box. Drive-by viewers can now donate online
Staffordshire is one of the areas under Tier 3 – currently the highest tier in England’s Covid alert system.
Under the rules, there can be no mixing of households indoors and also in most outdoor spaces. Large events, such as football matches including fans, are banned.
Some events are still permitted, including weddings – which does not include receptions – and civil partnerships with 15 guests.
Funerals can have up to 30 guests in all three of the Covid tiers.
And data from the Covid Symptom Study app, which collects unofficial reports of test results and symptoms, estimates that other Tier Two areas including Berkshire, Wiltshire and Suffolk are also seeing cases on the up ahead of crunch decisions next week
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