Village clock to be silenced at night for exceeding noise limit

Ashwell's St Mary's Church clock will not chime on the quarter hour after 23.05

Ashwell's St Mary's Church clock will not chime on the quarter hour after 23.05 - Credit: Archant

A village clock that has been ringing for more than a century is due to have its chimes silenced at night for exceeding a noise limit of 35 decibels, equivilant to a fridge humming.

The clock at St Mary’s Church in Ashwell, which has ticked since 1889, will have its quarterly hour chimes turned off between the hours of 11.05pm and 5.55am as soon as Ashwell Parish Council raises £1,900 to buy a timing mechanism.

The parish council has agreed to a trial period, which will be reviewed in April 2014, after a report by North Herts District Council (NHDC) environmental health officers claimed the chimes exceed the World Health Organisation’s noise limit of 35 decibels.

The clock will continue to ring on the hour, despite the fact that council leader Peter Long said they created the same amount of noise.

He said: “We were told that the district council’s environmental health officers would issue us a Noise Abatement Order if we didn’t stop the chimes.

“Our difficulty is we want to keep the chimes but then we also wanted to obey the law.”

The parish council can appeal against the order but this could lead to a legal battle with the NHDC, something Cllr Long wants to avoid.

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He added: “There would really be no point in spending £20k of public money on an appeal as it would all come out of the taxpayers’ pockets, regardless of who won.”

Cllr Bernard Lovewell, NHDC’s Portfolio Holder for Housing and Environmental Health, said: “We broadly welcome Ashwell Parish Council’s recent decision to cease the chiming of the quarterly bells of St Mary’s Church throughout the night and encourage its implementation without delay. By working closely with all parties to find an appropriate solution we seek the best outcome for all concerned.”The decision does not affect the church’s bells which will continue to ring for midnight mass on Christmas Eve.

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