Council rules kill off Christmas lights
LOCALS are calling "bullsh*t" over a council decision which has led to residents voluntarily cancelling a popular Christmas lights display in southeast Melbourne.
Homeowners at Hugo Court, Narre Warren, made the announcement on Facebook that they were pulling the plug on the annual display.
It followed a decision by Casey Council to declare the light show an "event", meaning residents would need to supply insurance and traffic management.
Residents said the costs for traffic management would be close to $23,000 alone, but stressed the financial burden was not the only reason the event would not go on this year.
"I have some sad news. Due to the huge support we have had the last few years with thousands of people coming to check out our Christmas Court we now have now got too big," organisers wrote.
"Due to the number of visitors we are getting we are now classed as an event and to run an event we must supply traffic management and public liability insurance which is in the tens of thousands of dollars.
"For us to pay these costs it is no longer fun so unfortunately Hugo Court Christmas Lights is no longer. There will be no lights this year at all.
"I do need to make it clear though that it is not just a monetary reason for the lights not being on this year. To organise everything that we now have to do as an event is very time-consuming; we would have to basically form a committee, creating an official group to be able to apply for the insurance and to handle the money side of things.
"We are all extremely busy and just don't have the time to organise all of the requirements."
They said the lights display had become a burden for neighbours in surrounding streets, too.
"They have to put up with not being able to get into their properties, noise, rubbish, people parking on their lawns, even people urinating on their front lawns.
"We all love the lights and the Christmas spirit but it has just got too big for us to handle."
Supporters had offered to help pay the costs, but residents refused to allow donations.
Social media users were clearly disappointed. Sharyn King wrote on the group's Facebook page that the pressure from council to force residents to pay was "absolutely bullshit".
"Every home is able to celebrate Xmas if they so want. If there are loads of people looking at your homes why is that expense yours?"
In a statement, Casey Council said the residents of Hugo Court had "made the decision not to conduct their much-loved annual Christmas lights display this year.
"Sadly it appears it has become a victim of its own success, following concerns around traffic management and anti-social behaviour over the past few years, including from Victoria Police."