Community centre packed as residents unite to protest at noise abatement notice (From Watford Observer)
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All Saints launches legal challenge against noise abatement notice
A Croxley Green church which has had its 140-year-old hourly chimes silenced following a single complaint from a resident has launched a legal challenge against Three Rivers District Council.
All Saints Church in The Green was served with a noise abatement notice, banning chimes between 11pm and 7am, on September 26 after environmental health officers upheld a complaint from a Windmill Drive resident.
Because it is not possible to set the ancient mechanism to work within specific hours, the bells have been silenced to comply with the order, but a legal challenge is already underway.
Reverend Miriam Mugan revealed this week that the number of letters and emails from residents supporting the bells made the decision to instruct diocesan solicitors to appeal against the order through the magistrates court easier.
She said: "The clock was installed in 1877 and the mechanism cannot be turned off for a few hours or on for a few hours. We have turned it off because we need to abide by the terms of a noise abatement notice.
"This has been a tough decision for us because of the financial expense we will incur. However, we feel we cannot allow this decision to go unchallenged.
"We do not know the timescale yet, it could be months rather than weeks, but until then we must abide by the noise abatement notice."
Scores of concerned residents crowded into the community centre on Community Way as Tuesday night’s extraordinary meeting of the parish council saw councillors pledge their unanimous support for All Saints Church.
During the meeting, the audience reacted angrily to the news that the same resident previously made a complaint about the clock chimes in 2004, which was dismissed by the council.
Councillor Philip Brading, who is also the district council’s member for environmental health, said: "I had a discussion with the environmental health officer charged with investigating this complaint and this isn’t something the officer has done lightly or on a whim.
"A complaint was received on August 10 the first thing they did was call the legal department for advice and the chief executive of Three Rivers. They then carried out a night time visit.
"She reached the conclusion that in that house, in that room, the noise was such that it would constitute a statutory noise nuisance, having determined that she was under obligation to act.
"The notice was issued, I believe, with a very heavy heart and I believe she would be very pleased if the order was quashed."
Councillor David Wynne-Jones said: "One of the really important things is to see you all here, this is a community and this is where our strength lies.
"Some of us are rather surprised and stunned that this was allowed to go through in the first place.
"One thing to get quite clear is this has now passed from being more of a frivolity to a legal matter.
"We will have to wait, and wait for some time, before we hear the golden chimes again."
The district council is understood to currently be considering whether the defend the church’s legal challenge or offer no evidence but, whatever the outcome, the order will remain in place until the court hearing.
Councillor Roger Seabourne, a Lib Dem district councillor for Croxley Green central ward, said: "Once the matter is resolved there are going to be winners and losers. If the bells are reinstated maybe the council can look at doing something to help the complainant.
"We won’t close the case while there is still at least one Croxley Green resident unhappy with the situation."
The resident who made the initial complaint was contacted this week by the Watford Observer but did not respond.
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