Page last updated at 22:54 GMT, Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Unseasonable row at Santa grotto

Glen Ross wearing Santa hat
Santa's little helper Glen Ross looks downcast

There was little sign of the festive spirit at Santa's grotto at the Knocknagoney shopping centre in east Belfast.

The grotto at the local Tesco car park, which has been in operation for the past four days, was forced to shut due to a complaint about noisy music.

Santa and his little helpers - organiser Glen Ross and three elves - did not take the eviction lightly and have staged a sit-in.

However, a solution may be on the cards after Tesco offered Santa another site.

The unseemly and unseasonable row followed a complaint made by residents living near the store.

'Not happy

The traditional grotto, which gives a percentage of each admission to the muscular dystrophy charity, was meant to run up until 22 December.

Glen Ross said he was "definitely not very happy".

"It's been absolutely disgusting, I just cannot believe they are stopping Santa for Christmas. It's just unbelievable," he said.

"We built the grotto a week and a half ago and Santa arrived there last Thursday.

"It's been open for five days, there are over 100 kids who have come through the doors and we've trying to make a few quid for Christmas for charity."

Mr Ross denied the music could be called Christmas rap.

"I wouldn't say Silent Night and Jingle Bells was Christmas rap," he said.

"It hasn't been that loud."

Tesco have indicated they are willing to move the Santa grotto to another part of the site, at no cost, and well away from the neighbours who complained about the noise.

Santa's team, however, said they had not heard of Tesco's offer and are determined to stay put.



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