Ashwell church chimes meeting branded ‘complete shambles’

Martin McBeal branded the meeting a 'complete shambles'

Martin McBeal branded the meeting a 'complete shambles' - Credit: Archant

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.

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“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.