Central Bedfordshire Council has refuted newspaper reports which suggested it was about to issue an Anti-Social Behaviour Order (Asbo) to a six-foot mechanical bear.
The polar bear, named Bernard, is situated outside the Loft Cafe in Shefford and performs Christmas carols to passers-by but a story in the Bedfordshire on Sunday newspaper suggested residents feared it "could be hit with an Asbo after receiving complaints".
However, a press officer for the council told i100.co.uk that the story was "embellished" and there had been "absolutely no mention of an Asbo or a gagging order, or anything like that".
The council did acknowledge that one noise complaint had been made about the bear and council officers were therefore "legally obliged" to investigate it but subsequently deemed it not to be a nuisance.
We have received one complaint regards a Christmas carol-singing bear and have visited the premises on a number of occasions and, while Bernard has not been deemed a nuisance, we have written to both parties, explaining the situation as part of an ongoing investigation.
The council takes noise complaints seriously and has a legal obligation to fully investigate them, but we also want everyone in Central Bedfordshire to enjoy themselves over the Christmas period and would urge residents and business owners alike to be mindful of their neighbours and the local community when planning festivities.
- Central Bedfordshire Council statement
The story in the Bedfordshire on Sunday, which was picked up by the Metro and the BBC, has subsequently been updated with a small disclaimer at the end saying: "Central Bedfordshire Council would like to make clear no ABSO proceedings have been brought against Bernard nor has he officially been 'gagged'."
Government guidelines say that anyone over the age of 10 can be given an Asbo for "drunken or threatening behaviour, vandalism and graffiti and playing loud music at night". Sadly, it makes no mention of mechanical polar bears or any other inanimate objects for that matter.