A BATTLE of the Santas erupted in Canvey town centre after council officials feared children would be “traumatised” by seeing two Father Christmases in the same high street!

Upset volunteers from the Friends of Concord Beach charity have spoken out after a conflict broke out at Canvey’s annual Christmas light switch-on over concerns there were one too many Santa sleighs in town.

The charity was confronted by representatives from Canvey Town Council who claimed that as the Canvey Rotary Club was arriving with their sleigh, they must take its down, despite queues of children waiting to visit.

The council told the charity that youngsters could be distressed at seeing two Santas in the same shopping street.

Colin Letchford, chairman of the Friends of Concord Beach charity, who dressed up as Santa, said: “Everyone was having fun and then an official in a high-visibility jacket came over and told us we had to get out of here and I couldn’t sit on the sleigh.

“They said we couldn’t have two Santas in one Christmas market because it would traumatise the children.

“It was absolute nonsense. I couldn’t believe it.

“We were not collecting any money or breaking any rules, we were just there to entertain the children.”

The charity carries out vital work to improve Concord beach and has a stall at the Christmas event every year.

Members claim they were asked to transform their carnival float into a Santa sleigh after concerns the rotary club’s Santa sleigh might not have been able to attend.

Fellow member Barry Palmer said: “I was so upset and my wife was absolutely fuming.

“It was ridiculous. There was a Santa walk a few weeks ago, what do they think happens where there are hundreds of them running down the road?

“Someone from the town council came over and said we had to take everything down and tell all the children to leave, but I refused.

“I didn’t get the feeling the council wanted to do it or cause any trouble, because we work with them very closely, but they had been scared into doing by some objectors.

“It was such a shame because the people at GMD supplies worked really hard to make the sleigh look fantastic.”

The Echo tried contacting the rotary club and Canvey Town Council for a response but they were unavailable for comment.

Canvey town councillor Dave Blackwell said: “I’m not too clear on the details, but there was an issue with there being one Santa sleigh at one end of the town and another at the other end, so I understand someone from the town council said one had to go as it would upset the children.

“It is a bit ridiculous to be honest, because if you walk down any high street, you could see four or five different Santas at one time.

“I think it was just a misunderstanding.”