Poll: No ho ho – is illuminated Santa disrespectful to solicitor’s grieving clients?

Mark Bunning removing the Christmas lights from his shop in Thetford Street, Watton Mark Bunning removing the Christmas lights from his shop in Thetford Street, Watton

Thursday, December 6, 2012
3:28 PM

A businessman who tried to light up Watton for Christmas has removed his decorations after hearing his Father Christmas display was disrespectful to grieving people visiting a solicitor next door.

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Mark Bunning's Christmas lights in Thetford Street, WattonMark Bunning's Christmas lights in Thetford Street, Watton

Mark Bunning put illuminations on the wall of his Thetford Street photography shop after a lack of volunteers meant there would be no Christmas lights or festive market in Watton High Street.

He agreed to remove a panel showing a Christmas tree and shooting stars after being told it blocked a window designated as a fire escape for an accountancy firm above him.

However, following discussions between his landlord and Salena Dawson, a solicitor whose office shares the same building, he was also asked to remove a 70cm-tall illuminated image of Father Christmas holding a flashing Merry Christmas message.

Mr Bunning, who took down all his outside decorations on Sunday morning, said: “I wanted to bring some light back to the High Street. As a business I want to help get Watton back on the map and show there are people who do care about the community and how Watton goes forward.

“We are pushing to get people into the town and I thought that putting some lights up might help.”

Ms Dawson, who is a member of the Wayland Chamber of Commerce committee, said she liked a set of stars Mr Bunning had erected, but had a different view about the Santa.

She said: “We are a business that deals with family matters and probate and because of the nature of those matters we are dealing with people who are finding this time of year quite difficult, so what we try to have is a professional and neutral look.

“We have never had flashing Christmas lights because we appreciate that this time of year is very difficult for many clients.”

Eileen Clarke, who has lived in Watton for 15 years, said she was disappointed to see the lights come down. She said: “It’s not a problem at Christmas. I think it’s petty. I would leave it if I could.”

19 comments

  • Where`s Jacob Marley when you want him. Who does this solicitor think she is ? If it was me I would put them back up tomorrow. I am sure Christmas lights are the last thing her clients are worried about - more likely the bill.

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    BG

    Thursday, December 6, 2012

  • Ha ha ha - Is it April the 1st all over again? Last year it was Santa on a crucifix! Some people should get a life and just lighten up!

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    IT Man

    Thursday, December 6, 2012

  • Mark can put up what he wants!! Just not on someone else's property. only a lunatic would cover a fire exit.... Have you asked him if he was told to take them all down!!!!! No he was not! So why did he???????????

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    Wolfie

    Thursday, December 6, 2012

  • This woman is a member of the local Chamber of Commerce??? Did she "solicit" the views of the local population? I doubt it. Don't be bullied Mark; get those lights up and bring a little brightness into Wayland; don't let it become known as "Waylaid"

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    Dictate

    Thursday, December 6, 2012

  • These comments sadden me greatly. I am all for banter and being jovial but not for being hurtful. Those who know me, know I am a very lovely person, full of life, full of Christmas spirit. There is not a snobby bone in my body and I have worked extremely hard to build my business and have always been passionate about the Wayland Area and Wayland Business. I was an extremely proactive WCC Chairperson, being very hands on, gaining support of Breckland, with projects that brought footflow into Wayland Business. Watton & Wayland have embraced me and my business for the past 4 years. As a result I know have 3 members of staff. Only today have I ever regretted setting up business in Watton. Today on account of this story, my lovely receptionist (a new young girl who has only recently gained confidence to return to the workplace) was verbally abused by a gentlemen who had walked out of Marks shop and into my office fuelled with the story as told according to Mark. Fact: Mark was never asked to take all of his lights down. I only asked him to move it from the fire escape. Yes I made it known that I did not feel a flashing Santa was the right image but I never asked him to remove it. Surely in this beautiful Country of ours, I too am allowed to express my opinion? Yes I am commercially minded & believe that like Holt, Attleborough, Diss, there should be uniformity of lights to portray a business like atmosphere for the whole of the town, showing we all as local business, work together for the best interests of our customersclients. I know Mark has received much positive publicity for the stunt of taking down all the lights and good on him for bringing the spot light to Watton. However to bring publicity whilst wrongly vilifying another business saddens me greatly & I am ashamed that it has escalated in another person being verbally abused. That cant be right. Mark knows that I work hard all around the Town and many professionals in the town know that I am not afraid to be the voice of decent. My clients like the fact I am down to earth with no airs or graces, no isms or scisms, just straightforward advice with no big horrible legal words. I care greatly about my clients, including those that find this time of the year particulary difficult. Hence simply decorating with white or blue decorations and nice festive messages in the window. All I ask is that all nastiness stops and that people get on and enjoy Christmas. Come in and talk to me. I will happily explain my position. It may be different from yours buts thats whats makes us human or is that humane. Wishing you all a Very Merry Christmas Regards Salena Dawson

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    Salena

    Thursday, December 6, 2012

  • Yes I quite agree that the decorations should go back up - I lost my sister 39yrs ago yesterday and my dad 9yrs ago this time of year. The Christmas decorations made me feel that this is a time of celebrations and rememberance.

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    Wendy Willimott

    Thursday, December 6, 2012

  • How pathetic !. Haven't heard of any other solicitors complaining elsewhere !.

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    "V"

    Thursday, December 6, 2012

  • life goes on what ever time of year it is. it hurts all year round but it dosn't mean we cancel christmas or cant have lights up. seems to be a case of not getting on with neighbour may be. get the lights up and put a smile on peoples faces

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    trev

    Thursday, December 6, 2012

  • criticism about the lights last year,no volunteers this year (to put up the lights).what has Wayland Chamber of Commerce and the council got planned for next year a complete black out and a Scrooge's grotto where presents can be taken away from the children? You want to be proud of Watton? Make an effort and prove it

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    Mike

    Friday, December 7, 2012

  • Petty, very petty, allow him to put his decs back up and stop being a modern day scrooge !!!

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    peter

    Saturday, December 8, 2012

  • This woman is a member of the local Chamber of Commerce??? Did she "solicit" the views of the local population? I doubt it. Don't be bullied Mark; get those lights up and bring a little brightness into Wayland; don't let it become known as "Waylaid"

    Report this comment

    Dictate

    Thursday, December 6, 2012

  • I think you have all missed the point, and like sheep are jumping on the band wagon... It looks to me as if the Landlord ask him to take one of the set of lights down as it was part in the way of a fire exit and placed on the property of the accountant...Not on his shop.

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    Wolfie

    Thursday, December 6, 2012

  • Christmas is about celebrating the birth of the Christ child. nothing comes any where near this.Santa Claus invented by Coca Cola, decorations ,lights grow up you lot.

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    PaulH

    Thursday, December 6, 2012

  • Having heard both parties interviewed about this on the radio last week, Ms Dawson's argument nor herself seem very credible at all. Initially she wanted it removed because it blocked an access route. After it was moved she came up with the other reason about it being insensitive to her clients. To me it sounded like simple snobbery.

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    AE

    Thursday, December 6, 2012

  • Hum- Bug, life goes on, put the lights back.

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    Rorping

    Thursday, December 6, 2012

  • Get over it. All she did was ask him to move a santa from blocking a fire exit. Can you imagine the headlines if there had been a fire and she was found to be at fault? I agree with her!

    Report this comment

    Lindsey Wood

    Thursday, December 6, 2012

  • criticism about the lights last year,no volunteers this year (to put up the lights).what has Wayland Chamber of Commerce and the council got planned for next year a complete black out and a Scrooge's grotto where presents can be taken away from the children? You want to be proud of Watton? Make an effort and prove it

    Report this comment

    Mike

    Friday, December 7, 2012

  • Put them back. Since when did businesses have to accommodate the emotional state of their neighbours? It is not even as if it is a funeral directors.An example of the people who seek to dictate to the rest of us based on the assumption that they know what will and will not upset or annoy others.

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    Daisy Roots

    Thursday, December 6, 2012

  • It's time people stopped being offended on behalf of others. Santa Claus was NOT invented by Coca Cola. Coca Cola invented the image of a happy fat red suited chap. Santa Claus (Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas etc) was here long before Coca cola.

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    Lord Elf

    Thursday, December 6, 2012

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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