Father of disabled schoolboy told by housing officials that he can’t light his garden with Christmas decorations despite putting them up for the last eight years

  • Baggotts have raised thousands for charity with dazzling Santa’s grotto
  • But landlord says the way they have altered electrics is a safety hazard
  • Family claim they were also told to remove shed which stored decorations
  • John Baggott says his disabled son would sit watching the lights for hours

By
Simon Tomlinson


PUBLISHED:

07:11 EST, 5 December 2013


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UPDATED:

09:08 EST, 5 December 2013

A family whose Christmas decorations have raised thousands of pounds for charity have been ordered to pull them down this year for safety reasons.

For the last eight years, John and Teresa Baggott have transformed their front garden into a dazzling Santa’s grotto with thousands of fairly lights, illuminated snowmen and a mechanical Father Christmas.

But housing bosses say the way they have altered their electrics at their home in Paignton, Devon, is a safety hazard.

'We put our heart and soul into it': John Baggott, pictured with his disabled son Shea in front of their Christmas display last year, has been told he can't have the decorations up this year for safety reasons

‘We put our heart and soul into it’: John Baggott, pictured with his disabled son Shea in front of their Christmas display last year, has been told he can’t have the decorations up this year for safety reasons

Dazzling: For the last eight years, John and Teresa Baggott have transformed their front garden into a Santa's grotto with thousands of fairly lights, illuminated snowmen and a mechanical Father Christmas

Dazzling: For the last eight years, John and Teresa Baggott have transformed their front garden into a Santa’s grotto with thousands of fairly lights, illuminated snowmen and a mechanical Father Christmas

Sanctuary Housing have reportedly also ordered the couple to tear down a shed they built to store their decorations.

Mr Baggott says the family are so upset they want to move to a new home with their three boys – Zach, 18, Kai, 16, and disabled son Shea, 14, who suffers from a muscle and nerve-wasting condition.

The security guard, 47, said: ‘We did it (the decorations) 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 had to sell them.’

Housing bosses say the way they have altered their electrics to power the display at their home in Paignton, Devon, is a safety hazard
Mr Baggott said the family's Christmas decorations have raised more than £8,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation and a nearby school for children with learning difficulties

‘Serious concerns about the safety of these works’: Housing bosses say the way they have altered their electrics to power the display at their home in Paignton, Devon, is a hazard

Mr Baggott said the family’s Christmas decorations have raised more than £8,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation and a nearby school for children with learning difficulties.

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

Mr Baggott said they are now trying to find a new home to escape Sanctuary’s ‘Scrooge-like’ rules.

He 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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