Coronavirus police threaten to fine dad £10k if he turns on charity Christmas lights

Coronavirus police threaten to fine dad £10k if he turns on charity Christmas lights

 

Coronavirus police have threatened to fine a dad £10,000 if he turns on his charity Christmas lights.

Trevor Payne, 46, was told by officers that he was breaching social distancing rules because families flocked to see his display in Cheslyn Hay, Staffordshire.

Mr Payne, who kits out his house to raise cash for charity every year, has now been ordered to keep the lights off or face the super-fine.

He put up a notice telling guests: “Due to Covid restrictions police have enforced switch off of lights. Sorry for your wasted journey, we cannot afford a £10k fine.”

Mr Payne said officers from Staffordshire Police came to his door on Saturday, Dec 5.

He said: “I’m just trying to make people happy, but sadly there are some Grinches out there.

“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.”

Mr Payne was hoping to raise around £1,000 for the charity Young Minds before the shutdown. An online fundraiser to save the display has already raised £300.

The dad-of-two fears neighbours may have tipped off police.

He said: “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.

“It was a rare bit of happiness but apparently it’s gone now. We’re waiting for advice from the police on how we can operate it.

“We’ve brought in hand sanitizer, one way systems and social distancing policies but apparently that’s not enough. It all seems a bit heavy handed to me.”

Kyrie Llewellyn, 34, who lives next door, said: “I think it’s an absolutely wonderful idea after the terrible year we’ve all had.

“But it’s disgraceful that instead of trying to help him manage the situation the police want to shut it down. It is busy but he’s trying to manage it.”

Mark Tomlinson, 36, added: “Trevor has a one-way system in place and people are queuing two metres apart to see it.

“He’s done it so you can go down the drive, go on the right hand side, look at all the lights and go back on yourself.

“It definitely seems safe and it’s outside anyway.”

Staffordshire Police tweeted about the display telling people to stay away.

The message read: “For safety reasons, officers are asking people to avoid Kestrel Way in Cheslyn Hay. There is a large gathering of people and officers are asking them to leave the area.”

Staffordshire Police said they received three calls about the gathering.

Chief Inspector David Wain said: “Officers attended after residents expressed concern for the safety of those present at the gathering, which appeared to breach the current Covid restrictions.

“Officers acted in good faith and explained to the householder that the county is under Very High Alert Level Covid restrictions which are in force to prevent the spread of the infection and protect people.

“No enforcement action was taken after the house-owner agreed to turn off the lights for the evening.

“Police are working in partnership with South Staffordshire Council and the homeowner to make the site Covid-compliant so that people can enjoy the lights and make secure charitable donations in a way that keeps everyone safe and prevents the spread of the virus.”

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