Rustington man forced to take down his Christmas lights, causing community outrage

A Rustington man has been forced to take down his Christmas lights after they were branded a ‘huge fire risk’.

Following a tough year, Jonathan Bulezuik decided to spread some festive cheer in his apartment block in Millfield Close, Rustington, by putting up a 20-metre stretch of lights around his flat and part of a communal ground floor area, after having told the residents’ association.

He said the response from neighbours had been largely positive – but on November 26, he received a message from Hobdens, the property management company, demanding he take down the lights as they were a ‘huge fire risk’.

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The furious 44-year-old key worker said: “It is the miserable few ruining it for the happy many.”

The Christmas lights in Millfield Close, Rustington

In the last two years, Jonathan has hung Christmas lights on bushes in front of his property – but as they had been cut back this year, he decided to hang them on the building using stick-on hooks which caused no damage to the facade.

He refuted claims they were a fire risk, as the string of LED lights were only five-watts, and said Rustington village’s Christmas lights should be taken down if they were using the same principle.

Jonathan shared his story on social media, with hundreds of residents voicing their support for him.

According to Jonathan, Hobdens said that if he did not remove the lights in 24 hours after receiving the letter, they would be taken down – so he took them down on Friday morning, along with lights he had put on a Christmas tree next to the front doors of the block.

The Christmas lights in Millfield Close, Rustington

They also asked him to take down a light in his window as it was an ‘eyesore’.

He believed a complaint had been made to Hobdens, but did not know who did it.

In his written response to them, he said: “I believe their decision to be ridiculous and utterly without proof or merit and, in a time when the country needs a little bit of happiness, absolutely downright miserable.”

In response, a Hobdens spokesman said: “We act on behalf of our client, the freeholder of the development in question, and were merely carrying out instructions from our client in requesting the lights are removed from the building. The resident was given permission by our client to place Christmas lights upon the bush outside the main entrance to the building. Permission was also granted to place a tree, with lights, outside the entrance to the building also. However the resident went beyond this and affixed lights to the fabric of the building without permission from our client, which is against the terms of the lease and may also pose a fire safety hazard.

“Whilst our client understands that the removal of the lights from the fabric of the building may cause upset and comment, the safety of the residents is our client’s (and ours as Managing Agents) number one priority and will do everything it can to reduce any risk to residents. Our client is happy for the lights to be located in the location that permission was granted for, however must insist that in the interests of safety to the residents the lights are removed from the building.”