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Hundreds call on council to save ‘beating heart of Sandwich’

PUBLISHED: 13:23 24 August 2017 | UPDATED: 14:22 25 August 2017

St Peter's Church in Sandwich

St Peter's Church in Sandwich

Archant

A petition has been launched urging the local authority not to silence the bells of St Peter’s Church during the night

Hundreds of people have signed a petition over fears clock chimes at a Sandwich church which have rang out for centuries could be silenced.

The bells of St Peter’s Church have chimed every quarter-hour for hundreds of years, but following a complaint from one neighbour, the possibility of a ban being imposed during the twilight hours has been raised.

Residents described the church bells as “the beating heart of Sandwich” and quickly made their feelings known, with more than 700 people signing the online petition - which is set to be delivered to Dover District Council leader Paul Watkins - within hours of launching.

Action group, Save The Chimes, said: “Due to a complaint to Dover District Council by one resident, the chimes face being silenced from 11pm until 7am each day, ending centuries of tradition.

“The feeling by the vast majority of Sandwich residents is that this is the ‘thin end of the wedge’ and if the ban is allowed to go through unchallenged, it will begin the erosion of centuries old traditions in our beautiful medieval town.

“We ask that Dover District Council listens to the wishes of the majority of Sandwich residents and allows the chimes to continue as they have done for centuries.”

Back in 2015, then-communities secretary Sir Eric Pickles responded after a number of similar reports appeared in other areas of the country.

He said: “In recent years, too many town halls have been over-zealous in trying to silence church bells and village clocks which have chimed for decades, if not centuries.

“We need some common sense about such long-standing community uses, and recognise such sounds are part of the fabric of Britain’s national life, rather than trying to white-wash all the character out of our heritage in some politically correct, ‘elf and safety purge.

“My department has now issued new, clear guidance to councils that the local character of a place should be taken into account during noise disputes, whilst ensuring councils still have powers to tackle new noise pollution that was never previously there.

“If people don’t like the chime of a church bell that has sounded for centuries, they reflect on whether they want to live next door to a church in the first place, or they should consider the merits of double glazing.”

A DDC spokesman said: “We are aware of this matter. All councils have a statutory duty to investigate noise complaints under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, and we continue to liaise with the relevant parties, including the owners of the building.

“It would not be appropriate to comment further on the details of an ongoing case.”

The petition is available to view here.

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