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

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

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.

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.”