A meeting took place on 18th June 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.
This topic occupied the major part of the meeting. The criteria had been published for consultation in April: the CCC had received 48 responses. A short summary of these was given. The issues raised in discussion followed the written submission to the CCC from the CCCBR, with the following areas highlighted:
A useful exchange ideas took place and these points would be reflected to the Bells and Clocks Committee and the CCC in considering the way forward on the consultation.
The consultation over listing bells and frames had in the CCC's view drawn renewed attention to the need for a national database of all bells and frames, within which historically important bells and frames could be identified. Such a database would need to be web based and fully searchable. The idea had already been explored in detail by the CCCBR, which had finally decided not to take it forward, as there were not sufficient benefits to justify the cost that would be involved for setting up and particularly for maintaining the database. The CCCBR would, however, be supportive of others' efforts and might be able to involve interested members in discussions of this issue. The views of English Heritage would also be appropriate here. The CCC to discuss further.
The CCC reported further progress in the agreement with the Heritage Lottery Fund for the CCC to provide advice for Your Heritage grant applications from churches. There were many bell cases being successful.
The CCC had contacted DAC secretaries to ask them if they had used the guidelines on substitute bells and to what effect. There had been no response. The CCCBR had suggested that for churches with an insubstantial tower, or no tower at all, the installation of a mini ring might be a better alternative to a full ring than the installation of electronic or recorded bells. The CCCBR offered to arrange for the CCC to have a demonstration of a successful mini ring in a church.
The CCCBR had considered this and drew attention back to the Code of Practice which emphasised the ability of the tower to support the ring and access for maintenance of the augmented ring. The CCCBR felt strongly that the size of the present ringing band and the short-term likely use should not be given particular emphasis by the CCC; it was often the case that augmentations enhanced towers so that they would attract more ringers. The CCCBR did not accept that there was any particular relationship between the size of a ring and the church or the community that it served.
The arrangements with QS4 and the CCCBR were generally found to be working well. It was confirmed that, under the National Agreement, whilst QS4 was expected to liaise closely with individual DACs about any particular general planning, design or procedural issues (e.g. some DACs would not allow an external cabinets in churchyards; others insisted on them), this was in the context of the standard approach prescribed which sought to ensure that each proposed installation was adapted to the particular circumstances of the individual church building. The ethical issues surrounding the assertion by some children's charities that G3 technology would lead to increased risks of child pornography were raised. It was noted that, whilst the Archbishops' Council had determined that there was no current "ethical bar" to the National Agreement (which enabled parishes to make their own informed decision) or to working with the licensed telecommunications operators, it had established arrangements for ongoing review by the Ethical Investments Advisory Group.
The CCC reminded the CCCBR of the ongoing work on guidelines for diocesan consultants. The CCCBR did not support the practice of Diocesan Bells Consultants drawing up specifications of work and asking contractors to quote to them. The attention of the CCC was drawn to the seven Nolan principles of public life, which were relevant to this area.
The next meeting is planned for January 2005. This will include a review meeting with QS4.
The Ringing World, August 20, 2004, page 798