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Festive fundraiser threatened with £10,000 fine by police because of Christmas lights outside home

Killjoy police officers have threatened a festive fundraiser with a £10,000 fine over his Christmas lights display – warning it could be causing a breach in Covid rules.

Officers say Trevor Payne’s full-blown festive lights – which he puts up each year to raise money for mental health charities – are drawing ‘large gatherings’ outside his home in Cheslyn Hay, Staffordshire.

Police have warned the 46-year-old that the gatherings could be breaching Covid rules for the area – which is currently in Tier 3.

And they say Mr Payne could be hit with a maximum fine of £10,000 if they continue.

But the father-of-two has now hit back at the ‘Grinches’ opposing his display and said was ‘just trying to make people happy’.

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.

Officers say Trevor Payne’s (pictured) full-blown festive lights – which he puts up each year to raise money for mental health charities – are drawing ‘large gatherings’ outside his home in Staffordshire

Police have now warned the 46-year-old, saying the gatherings outside his festive-themed home (pictured) could be breaching Covid rules for the area - which is in Tier 3

Police have now warned the 46-year-old, saying the gatherings outside his festive-themed home (pictured) could be breaching Covid rules for the area – which is in Tier 3

‘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.

Force chiefs say they did not take any enforcement action and are working with Mr Payne and local council officials in order to make the display ‘Covid compliant’. 

Bosses at the force say they did not take any enforcement action and are working with Mr Payne (pictured) and local council officials in order to make the display 'Covid compliant'

Bosses at the force say they did not take any enforcement action and are working with Mr Payne (pictured) and local council officials in order to make the display ‘Covid compliant’

But residents in the area have slammed the force for ‘spoiling the small amount of festive joy’ they could experience this year.

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.

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.’ 

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

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

Mr Payne was hoping to raise around £1,000 for the charity Young Minds with his display (pictured) before the shutdown

Mr Payne was hoping to raise around £1,000 for the charity Young Minds with his display (pictured) before the shutdown

‘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.’ 

He added: ‘The police have got it tough at the moment, there’s no doubting that, but they have got to use some common sense from time to time and get their priorities right.’ 

Mr Payne was hoping to raise around £1,000 for the charity Young Minds before the shutdown.

An online fundraiser, set up by Joe Taylor, to save the display has already raised £300.

He wrote: ‘Trevor a local resident from Cheslyn Hay, Staffordshire, decorates is home with thousands of Christmas lights every single year to raise money for charity.

‘As well as raising thousands over the years, local families with children love to walk and visit the lights.

‘2020 should have been no different except for Staffordshire Police deciding to intervene and threaten Trevor with a £10,000 fine if he did not turn the lights off, despite getting clearance beforehand due to Covid regulations.

‘As you can imagine this has angered local residents who are in full support of Trevor.

‘Unfortunately until we can get this overturned with the local police I have set up this GoFundMe page to support Trevor’s chosen charity to help out raising money of the loss of donations he’ll receive because of not being able to attract local residents.’

Posting on Facebook on Sunday, Mr Taylor warned residents not to turn up to the lights again because police had banned Mr Payne from turning them on again.

He said: ‘Do not visit this evening. Please share. Staffordshire Police are again advising Trevor to NOT switch on his lights tonight despite Covid measures being put in place.

An online fundraiser, set up by Joe Taylor, to save the display (pictured) has already raised £300. Mr Payne has put a sign up outside his home saying he cannot have the lights this year

An online fundraiser, set up by Joe Taylor, to save the display (pictured) has already raised £300. Mr Payne has put a sign up outside his home saying he cannot have the lights this year

Mr Payne has now put signs outside his house warning people not to gather after a warning from the police. He has warned those that do come to keep a two metre distance

Mr Payne has now put signs outside his house warning people not to gather after a warning from the police. He has warned those that do come to keep a two metre distance

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

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

‘With this constant battle with Staffordshire Police Trevor is missing out on donations to raise money for Young Minds.’

Staffordshire Police also posted to Facebook asking people to avoid Kestrel Way, where the display is being held, due to a ‘large gathering’.

The post has been deleted since the weekend.

A force spokesperson said they received three calls about the gathering which reportedly saw visitors entering the garden and a large number of cars parked in the area.

Chief Inspector David Wain, of South Staffordshire Neighbourhood Policing team, 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.’

Staffordshire is one of the areas under Tier 3 – currently the highest tier in England’s Covid alert system.

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

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

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.


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