Council bosses ban family’s charity Christmas lights… on health and safety grounds

December 5, 2013 | by | 0 Comments

Scrooge housing bosses have pulled the plug on a family’s charity Christmas lights – on health and safety grounds.

For the last eight years John and Teresa Baggott have transformed their front-garden into a dazzling Santa’s grotto to raise thousands of pounds.

Their display with thousands of fairly lights, illuminated snowmen and a mechanical Father Christmas has attracted sightseers from miles around.

John Baggott and his disabled son Shay with their Christmas lights display in 2012 which the council has this year banned on health and safety grounds

John Baggott and his disabled son Shay with their Christmas lights display in 2012 which the council has this year banned on health and safety grounds

But this year their landlords have decided the way they power their lights on their home in Paignton, Devon is a safety hazard.

Sanctuary Housing have also ordered John and Teresa, 46, to tear down a shed they built to store their jumbo decorations.

The pair are so upset they want to move to a new home with their three boys, Zach, 18, Kai, 16, and disabled Shea, 14, who suffers from a muscle and nerve-wasting condition.

Security guard John, 47, said: “We did it for the kids. They would come round and go: wow!

“But a representative from Sanctuary Housing came round and told me I had to take down all the hooks and the electric boxes on the wall because he didn’t want electrics outside the house.

“So if I wanted to put lights up, I couldn’t.

“Sanctuary also told me to rip down my shed, which I built when I moved in eight years ago.

“So we didn’t have anywhere to store all the decorations and we had to sell them.”

John said the family’s Christmas decorations have raised more than #8,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation and a local school for kids with learning difficulties.

The annual display takes around two weeks to assemble but last year it earned them first place in the the residential category of the Torbay Winter Glitterland competition.

He said they’re now trying to find a new home to escape Sanctuary’s “Scrooge-like” rules.

John added: “We put a lot of work into it. We put our heart and soul into it and it looked pretty good.

“Shea loved the lights. He would sit out there for hours in his wheelchair looking at them. He’s upset and he has picked up that we’re stressed.

“I’ve got pride in my home and I want to be able to decorate it how I want.

“Hopefully our new landlord will let us put lights up and we’ll build the collection up again.”

A spokesman for Sanctuary Group confirmed the family were told they were “not allowed to tamper with the electrics of the property”.

She said: “As standard with rented accommodation, tenants should not tamper with the electrics, build onto or extend the property without their landlord’s consent, and Sanctuary has only very recently been made aware of the extent of work done to the home.

“The family has significantly altered and extended the electrics at the property and we have serious concerns about the safety of these works.”

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