A meeting took place on 16th January 2004 at Church House, London, between representatives of the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers and Officers of the Council for the Care of Churches.
Topics discussed included guidance notes for Your Heritage grants to churches. While the need for demonstrable public benefit remains, there is a move to be less restrictive in terms of cut-off dates for bells eligible for grant aid. The CCCBR is preparing advice for applicants for HLF grants, and was aware of successful applications at Blisworth, Cold Ashby and Tibenham.
The CCCBR expressed concern that the guidance on substitute bells issued by the CCC in October 2002 was being used to justify the installation of substitute bells by parishes who were apparently unable to fund restoration of historic bells. CCC emphasised that the inadequate funds criterion had only been intended for application to churches with very small congregations. It was agreed that the CCC would contact DAC secretaries to ask them if they had used the guidelines on substitute bells and to what effect. The CCCBR emphasised again that mini rings were an affordable option, such as at Warden Hill, Cheltenham, and that developments in bell casting made this a viable option for calling people to church.
At the Bell forum in November 2003 the CCC had indicated that it was at the early stages of formulating criteria for listing bells for preservation. After discussions with the CCC and its Bells and Clocks Committee criteria would be published for consultation. The views of the CCCBR would be sought, along with those of the trade, Ringing World readers, DAC Secretaries and Bell Advisers, English Heritage, SPAB and IHBC; the consultation letter appeared on pages 313 to 314 of The Ringing World of 2nd April 2004.
The CCC receives sufficient requests for advice over augmentations for it to be helpful to have a set of standard questions against which to assess them. The views of the CCCBR were sought over what factors they would wish to see taken into account when the CCC assessed such schemes. These included a broader view of the scheme than conservation alone, taking into account mission along with the state of the tower, suitability of the scheme, parish support and implications for conservation of existing arrangements. CCC agreed to consider (and invited CCCBR to reply formally).
Guidelines for ringers from the CCCBR will now be included in the QS4 guidance notes for churches which QS4 was required to issue to parishes considering hosting telecommunications equipment. The CCCBR was also preparing notes for DACs and Chancellors, in addition to those for ringers which will be sent to the CCC for comment.
Concern was expressed about operators outside the National Agreement. The National Agreement was used as an example of good practice for DACs and Chancellors and every effort should be made to ensure that conditions at least equal to those in the National Agreement were included in faculties.
The CCCBR had noted a lack of consistency in advice given by bell consultants across the dioceses. Guidelines for good practice relating to DAC advisers of all kinds were currently in preparation by the CCC and these will include consideration of possible conflicts of interest.
The CCC confirmed that there is no obligation on DACs to consult the CCC over the appointment of Bell Consultants, and it would therefore be unrealistic for the CCC to promise any consultation with the CCCBR over the appointment of consultants.
The CCCBR asked about the process of appointing members to the CCC's Bells and Clocks Committee.
The function of the Bells and Clocks Committee was to advise the CCC and that recommendations in faculty cases were made by the CCC, not the Committee. The (elected) General Synod had an Appointments Committee which appointed the CCC and the CCC appointed its own Committees, under the general oversight of the Appointments Committee.
The next meeting is planned for 18th June, 2004. This meeting will focus mainly on criteria for the listing of bells and bell frames.
The Ringing World, May 21, 2004, page 489