A meeting took place on 6th March 2009 at Church House, Westminster between representatives of the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers and Officers of the Church Buildings Council (formerly the Council for the Care of Churches).
CBC: Janet Gough (Head of Division and Secretary, CBC), David Knight (Conservation Assistant).
CCCBR: Tony Smith (President), Kate Flavell (Vice-President), Ian Oram (Secretary), James Clarke (Towers and Belfries Committee).
Janet Gough welcomed all present to her first meeting with CCCBR representatives.
As both Janet Gough and James Clarke were new to this meeting it was appropriate that the remit of the two sides was reviewed:
David Knight explained that the CBC advised on proposed works to bells or bell frames being considered for faculty when the bells were of historic, artistic or archaeological significance, and where proposals involved the introduction or removal of bells or bell frames. The CBC had a grant programme for conservation work to bells and bell frames of historic interest.
Tony Smith introduced the chief elements of the work of the CCCBR. It was a voluntary organisation that represented the interests of county or diocesan associations. The CCCBR had its own Towers and Belfries Committee, which provided advice to parishes on all matters relating to bells and their towers. Due to the location of the majority of ringing peals in Anglican churches there was significant cross-over with DAC Bell Advisers in some areas.
David Knight reported that the Churchcare website was updated for 22 dioceses and that new information for further dioceses awaited inclusion on the Churchcare website. The cooperation of DAC Bell Advisers and others with the revision of the lists was noted with thanks. In due course help would be sought from Advisers whose diocesan lists awaited revision.
Janet Gough reported that the Heritage Protection Bill was not included in the Queen’s Speech at the opening of the current session of Parliament. English Heritage hoped to take forward many of the initiatives in the bill without primary legislation. The Ecclesiastical Exemption remained, although subject to review. Further information was at www.english-heritage.org.uk/reform.
David Knight reported that there would be a meeting for DAC Bell Advisers on 17th June 2009 that would be based around two churches in the City of London. DAC Bell Advisers from the Church in Wales had been invited. Representatives of the CCCBR would also be invited.
The CBC had not heard of any new cases of voluntary work to bells being done without appropriate authorisation. Nearly all significant work to bells in Anglican churches required a faculty. Since the number of companies involved in bell founding and hanging was low there was no widely felt need for accreditation to identify competence in bell work, and this could make it difficult to draw attention to competent workers without naming individual firms.
David Knight reported that Alan Thurlow had enjoyed his visit to the Ringing Roadshow.
The method of appointing members to the Council’s conservation committees would be considered at the next meeting of the Chairmen.
Janet Gough reported that one result of the formation of the Church Buildings Council was that the work formerly done by the Advisory Board on Redundant Churches was being done by a new Statutory Advisory Committee (SAC), drawn from the membership of the CBC. The SAC advised the Church Commissioners over matters relating to closed churches, including the quality of the furnishings. The CBC, together with the Cathedrals Fabric Commission (CFCE), formed the Cathedral and Church Buildings Division. The staff of the division were available to service both the CBC and CFCE. The amount of bell casework referred to the CFCE was low.
The CCCBR representatives explained that the closure of a church with a ringing peal could result in a ring no longer being accessible to the public and asked if keeping bells in use could be borne in mind as one consideration when churches were going through the closure process.
The national aerials agreement with QS4 had ended. NET were now installing aerials in churches, but without any national agreement. NET were voluntarily following the protocols in the former national agreement. There were no known current concerns over works in ringing towers.
The next meeting would be at 2.00 pm on 9th October 2009 at Church House, Westminster.
The Ringing World, May 15, 2009, page 507