Aussie council backtracks as viral Christmas lights saga takes a turn

The family say they found out about the Brisbane Council's new willingness to negotiate after seeing it on the news.

An Aussie family's dispute with council over their Christmas lights display has been resolved after community backlash saw the council backtrack on its demands for the lights to be cut back.

Jamie Lehmann and his partner Laeticia Lay went viral after sharing on social media that Brisbane City Council had given them a notice to remove some of their popular Christmas lights display at their Coopers Plains home.

The original TikTok video attracted over 2.5 million views since Thursday and their story was shared across Australia, leading to the council reportedly changing their request — something Lehmann only found out while watching coverage of the story on TV.

Screenshots of Jamie Lehmann (middle) and his partner Laeticia Lay (right) talking on TV. Left image is of their Christmas display.
Jamie Lehmann (middle) and his partner Laeticia Lay (right) were both featured on Aussie television after their Christmas lights (left) went viral on social media. Source: Facebook / 7News

In his video Lehmann said he been asked to remove all of his nature strip display to behind his mailbox. But he learned from a TV report council's demanded change was less radical.

"The council apparently stated to [7News] they only asked us to move it back one metre which was incorrect," Lehmann told Yahoo News Australia. "I rang [the council] to confirm what the news stated".

New agreement between council and family

After seeing this, he called the council department handling his case to confirm if their request to remove the lights on the nature strip had changed. Their response was that "it wasn't them" who issued the statement to 7News and it "must have been another department".

There was light at the end of this tunnel though, and both Lehmann and the council came to a new agreement which means his family will be able to keep their lights up this Christmas.

"We’re pleased to have come to an agreement with the resident to make minor kerbside changes so residents can safely exit their cars and pedestrians can use the footway," a Brisbane City Council spokesperson confirmed to Yahoo. "We encourage residents to get out and see this and other great light displays across Brisbane this Christmas season".

The new agreement stipulates:

  • They must move the display back two metres from the kerb.

  • The walkway they had created going through the display will close, and those wishing to walk past can do so via the space by the curb.

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All started with a calling card from local officer

The young family found out they had been reported by a neighbourhood "grinch" on Wednesday after the council had "popped around" to their home to discuss the complaint over footpath access.

A calling card was left, and officers came back the next day to tell Lehmann to move back the decorations or else be fined every day the display remained up.

"Everything had to be removed, there wasn't any negotiating at all," Lehmann said at the time.

Their extravagant lights, which have a Facebook group dedicated to them, were nominated for South East Queensland's best Christmas lights for 2022 and, following the new agreement with their council, the family hope to enter the competition again this year.

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