Ashwell church chimes meeting branded ‘complete shambles’

PUBLISHED: 17:17 08 May 2014 | UPDATED: 11:11 09 May 2014

Martin McBeal branded the meeting a 'complete shambles'

Martin McBeal branded the meeting a 'complete shambles'


A council meeting held last night (Wednesday) aimed at resolving a dispute over noise from a church’s chimes has been branded a “complete shambles” by a supporter of a group campaigning to keep them.

Ashwell Parish Council meeting discussed the issue of silencing the quarter hour chimes at St Mary’s Church between 11.05pm and 5.55am after North Herts District Council (NHDC) environmental health officers judged them to exceed World Health Organisation’s safe volume levels.

Save the Chimes of Ashwell, set up to keep the chimes - which have rung uninterrupted for over 118 years - proposed to buy a mechanism that would quieten them to within WTO safety levels.

However, the meeting did not go as planned for some in the group according to one member, Martin McBeal.

He said: “The meeting was a complete shambles.

“The council didn’t want to compromise they just want to appease the people who are complaining.

“We put through a very good proposal to quieten the chimes to within the WHO’s safety limits but the council is questioning the capability of the mechanism on the chimes.

“They can be switched off completely or they can be reduced to an acceptable level but they just want them turned off.

“There were only two councillors who voted in favour of the proposal, which we offered to pay for.

“Still, we’re not going to give up. The group may of split but we will still fight to save our chimes.”

The mechanism, costing around £3,000, would lengthen the springs that control the chimes strike and reduce their elasticity, making them hit the bells with less force and consequently quieter.

Mr McBeal added: “Ashwell used to be a medieval village but now it’s an evil village. It’s the evilest village in the whole country. Before these people came it was a lovely place but now it’s just an evil, evil place.

“I’ve lived here for every one of the 71 years of my life and it used to be wonderful, but now it’s just evil.”

The dispute started nearly two years ago when a number of residents contact NHDC over the noise of the chimes.

At a meeting in November it was decided to silence the quarter hour chimes – with the clock still ringing on the hour – for a trial period.

This has yet to commence as the council is seeking funding to buy a £1,900 timing mechanism.

The Crow contacted Ashwell Parish Council but as yet has been unable to get a comment from parish chairman Peter Long.

A spokesman for the council said that after two years the issue looked like it could finally be properly resolved.


  • People have an inalienable right to live in whatever village they choose. And they have a right to expect others wherever they live to obey the law, including not making so much noise that they're a statutory nuisance. There is no justification at all for the bells to chime overnight which, since the invention of the watch, is just the creation of noise for noise pollution's sake. It's high time the church started practising what it preaches and loving its neighbours as much as it apparently loves itself. It is not above the law, nor is the law at all unreasonable.

    Report this comment

    Norman Wells

    Saturday, May 10, 2014

  • I have been following this story, since the Campaign started. I can not understand why people move to a village and then want to change how that village has lived for hundreds of years? The fact that the clock was or may have been, being repaired, when these people moved in is surely of no consequence as outsiders, it's up to you to find out where and what you're moving too ? This makes me so angry! And as for stating laws that have been running for only 24 yrs, that's ridiculous, I'm sure the noise from aeroplanes taking off and landing, far outweigh the noise from the Chimes, and it's like anything else, you get use to it! Ask anyone who lives on the coast, what noise the Seagulls make at night!

    Report this comment

    Doreen Robson

    Saturday, May 10, 2014

  • People are entitled to live wherever they like in this country, and they're entitled to any protection accorded to them under the law. Whatever others may think about the bells, some have complained about them and the Council has supported their complaints. They're just a noise machine, and if I made a similar amount of noise at similar times I would undoubtedly be stopped. There is no exemption provided in the law based on the length of time the nuisance has been going on, and it therefore has to stop.

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    Norman Wells

    Friday, May 9, 2014

  • I lived in Ashwell for 23 of my 27 years and this was never a problem. I do not attend church nor am I am religious, however as stated above these bells have rung uninterrupted for 118 years and they are a part of the village I grew up in and loved. Growing up in Ashwell (not far from the church itself) I never remember being kept awake nor hearing of anyone else complaining of troubled sleep either. I would suggest to those who don't like village life...don't live in a village or near a church. As for all this 'safe volume level' and 'statutory noise' nonsense, it sounds like health and safety gone nuts to me!

    Report this comment

    Holly Finnigan

    Friday, May 9, 2014

  • NHDC has ruled that the chimes are a statutory nuisance and hence illegal under the Environmental Protection Act 1990. They should therefore be stopped immediately and not reinstated until legality can be restored. It's not 'evil' to want a good night's sleep or noise levels to be safe. Moreover, it's for the church to obey the law, and ensure that they do. It's their responsibility to fund that, not the Parish Council's.

    Report this comment

    Norman Wells

    Friday, May 9, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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