Published On: Thu, Nov 16th, 2023
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Beith Parish Church in Ayrshire silenced bells after noise complaint | UK | News

Church bells which have rung every hour for more than 200 years have been silenced after just one noise complaint was submitted to the council.

Beith Parish Church in Ayrshire, Scotland, has stopped ringing its bells between 11pm and 7am after just one local complained they had disrupted their sleep.

But now fans are hoping to get the bells ringing again with 900 people signing a petition to bring them back to chiming 24 hours a day saying the bells represent the town’s “history and heritage”.

Bryan McWilliams, who has lived next door to the bells for 23 years and never had any complaints, started the petition as he believes bellringing is “ingrained in our community for generations”.

The bell was silenced by the Church of Scotland after North Ayrshire Council asked it to cease chiming overnight following the complaint.

Members of the church’s Kirk Session board of trustees said they were “empathetic” to complaints and saw how their bells could be disturbing sleep.

A spokesman for the group said: “The Kirk Session took Environmental Health’s suggestion on board, embracing the bible teaching of love thy neighbour as thyself.”

But Mr McWilliams told the BBC: “The chiming clock is more than just a timekeeper. It serves as an audible connection to our history and heritage and has been chiming for 200 years.

“Many townsfolk have shared stories about how they’ve relied on these chimes throughout their lives – from knowing when it was time to head home as children playing in the streets, to relying on them during power outages.

“We understand that everyone’s comfort is important. However, we believe that one person’s discomfort should not outweigh a tradition loved by many and ingrained in our community for generations.”

Environmental health officers from North Ayrshire Council told the church that they would consider the fact the noise was for long-established cultural or religious reasons when assessing for nuisance.

Built in 1810, Beith Parish Church has been an important part of the town’s history.

The church’s archivist Tom Hart said there were previous discussions about the bell’s late night noise in the 1990s, however, the 24-hour tradition continued.

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