A West Sussex radio presenter has sparked a bitter row by condemning Christmas lights on people's homes as "naff".

Duncan Barkes, of Spirit FM, said displays were getting out of control and should be left in their boxes.

The talk show host incurred the wrath of Spirit FM listeners across West Sussex by claiming the displays of lights adorning many houses were "common" and "naff."

Some listeners were so outraged they turned up at the company's Chichester headquarters demanding an explanation from station bosses.

But unrepentant Mr Barkes said last night: "It's just something we are talking about on air. A lot of places have got them up.

"If they are for charity they are fine. But if they are not for charity, it's unnecessary.

"I think it's dangerous to low-flying aircraft and road traffic, a waste of money and bad for the environment."

Mr Barkes denied lacking Christmas spirit, and went on: "There are lights in Bognor Regis that went up on October 16. Don't you think that's a bit early?

"Someone in Chichester has got an inflatable Winnie the Pooh. What's festive about that?

"If people don't get a grip on it we are going to end up like the States. It's just not very British, is it?"

Ian Church, of Manor Close, Southwick, whose visitors are greeted each December with a display of coloured bulbs depicting Santa in his sleigh and an inflatable Winnie the Pooh, dismissed the broadcaster as "miserable". He said: "It's not costing him a penny, is it?

"Neighbours love it. One or two ask if they can be the celebrity that switches them on for us and each year people ask us when the lights are going up."

His wife, Maureen, said the lights would be raising money for charity this year but she had previously just put them up for the fun of it and saw no harm.

She said: "If he doesn't like them, that's tough. We do it for the young kids up the close, and they love it."

But Mr Barkes, who lists among his hobbies "barking at tourists" and lives in a beach hut, said people with over-the-top displays were "purely attention seekers" and added that he had had many calls supporting him.

He is building up a list of the locations "where such naffness is prominent" and broadcasts the street addresses of offenders on air.

He said: "Spirit FM is a local station for this patch. There are issues people want to talk about and it's our duty to get people on air to talk about stuff.

"People are quite apathetic in some ways. Christmas lights is not the most serious issue in the world but people here are talking about it. I see it as my role to provoke a reaction.

"It's quite interesting how people won't get off their backsides to vote in a general election but they will complain about someone having a go at their 8ft Santa."