Christmas lights spark neighbourhood stoush
A BRISBANE woman's controversial Christmas lights display has become the talk of her suburb, after she revealed last year's efforts prompted a string of complaints to council.
Katie Rayner has now appealed for calm in a flyer distributed to her Riverhills neighbours as she prepares to put up her Christmas lights again this year.
Last year's display resulted in complaints, emails and a visit from a Brisbane City Council officer.
In a letter to neighbours last week, Ms Rayner wrote: 'This is a friendly neighbourhood notification to let you know that this Christmas (from Dec 1st - Jan 3rd) we will be running external solar powered Christmas lights and displays so our 5yr old ASD son can enjoy the magic of Christmas."
"If at any point our lights/displays become a nuisance, please don't hesitate to knock on our door or leave a letter in the mailbox. Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a festive new year."
Ms Rayner said her son is autistic and only really took an interest in Christmas last year.
"I was like, okay, let's encourage this, so I got some lights - and then I got complaints from the council to the point that they even came out to my house," she said.
"I only had solar powered ones. They charge all day and generally have an eight hour running time.
"(Last year) I had even taken my lights down and I still received a complaint. So much for the joy of Christmas.
"So this year, I thought I'll get in early and do the flyer for the neighbours, and thankfully I've only had positive feedback from it," she said.
Ms Rayner said she'd also received donations of more lights after word of the stoush hit social media.
"I was quite proud of my achievements last year until the council came knocking," she said.
"No-one said anything to me last year, they just went straight to council."
In emails to Ms Rayner in December last year, a council officer said as long as the lights were turned off by 10pm, there shouldn't be any complaints.
Ms Rayner replied that she was at a loss as to why the complaint had been made as she turned off her lights by 9.45pm.
"The only lights that stay on at night is our toilet lights and the fairy lights on our Christmas tree. Should I now make sure they are turned off?" she wrote.
"Please tell me how I can resolve this as I don't want any more complaints."
The officer responded that without seeing her Christmas tree first hand, he would be surprised if they were causing a nuisance.
"As a peace of mind, I tend to switch my Christmas tree lights off at night due to the possible fire hazard," he wrote.
A neighbour - who didn't want to be named - said bright lighting from Ms Rayner's home had been a problem since 2017.
"Basically it's been happening for over two years. It's affecting us, not just myself but other neighbours," she said.
"They're very tacky. Our bedrooms face her patio and she puts them all over so they flash non stop into our bedroom."
The woman said her family had blinds but that still didn't block out the lights.
"One of my children wasn't very well and ended up in hospital with cardiac issues and it was all down to sleep deprivation," she said.
"They have no idea what it's like to live next to this."
The neighbour said she didn't mind the lighting as long as it was turned off at 10pm.
Like Ms Rayner, the neighbour said she was also hopeful of a peaceful Christmas.
"I've already got my complaint ready to go because I just can't do this anymore. I've got to work. There was quite a lot of sleep deprivation," she said.
"Hopefully they'll just be kind enough to just turn them off and not leave them flashing at us."
A Brisbane City Council spokesman said council occasionally received complaints about Christmas lights, and they received 10 complaints last year.
"Council has worked with a resident at Riverhills to ensure their lighting does not impact on surrounding residents and through ongoing discussions with the council, the property owner and surrounding residents it was agreed the lights would be turned off at 10pm each evening."
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