A meeting took place on 28th September 2007 at Church House, Westminster between representatives of the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers and Officers of the Council for the Care of Churches
Progress with the adoption of the new criteria for bells and bell frames of significance was noted. It was asked if the date of the record could be shown online when the data was displayed. The CCC agreed to consider whether this would be practicable within the context of the Churchcare site.
The White Paper on heritage protection legislation was published in March 2007. The Ecclesiastical Exemption will continue. Outstanding points of detail remained over issues including the definition of an ecclesiastical asset and ecclesiastical use. It was still anticipated that the Bill would go to Parliament in October 2008 and come into force in 2010.
The absence of any reference to bells in the description of a church was mentioned. Maybe this was something that could be included in the appropriate guidance note, possibly drawing attention to the online list of historically significant bells and bell frames.
The Perspectives conference at Worcester on 15th September was generally considered to have been useful by the CCC and CCCBR, in particular for the opportunity to meet a good representation of bell advisers and bellfounders and bellhangers. The opportunity for further focused national meetings would be welcome.
The CCC meeting for DAC Bell Advisers in June 2008, for which notice was given at the Worcester event, would be primarily for bell advisers. It was, though, agreed to invite Derek Sibson, or another appropriate person, to represent the CCCBR.
The CCCBR Secretary had received a letter from a parish, expressing disappointment not to be successful with an approach to the Heritage Lottery Fund for a grant; the HLF had approached the CCC for advice over the heritage merit of the scheme. The CCC emphasised that the decisions over HLF grants were taken by the HLF, and that the CCC advice over heritage merit was only one element that was considered by the HLF.
The CCC explained that Synod had now passed the Dioceses Pastoral and Mission Measure legislation, one result of which would be to make a new body which would inherit the functions of the Advisory Board for Redundant Churches and the CCC and be the central source of advice for church buildings both in and out of use. The new arrangements were likely to come into force in 2008, assuming Royal Assent following scrutiny by the Ecclesiastical Committee and by both Houses of Parliament.
The CCC reported receiving an indication from an informal conversation with a DAC Secretary who was concerned that work to bells was being done in the diocese by volunteers associated with the Diocesan Association of Bell Ringers. Some of these works were considered to need a faculty and did not have one and others were, it was alleged, being done without full knowledge of the incumbent or Churchwardens. As no specific case had been mentioned, it was not possible for the CCC to comment or investigate further at this stage.
The CCCBR expressed concern about over zealous fire inspectors claiming that bells (or ringing rooms) were not safe. The Health and Safety Executive itself recognised the particular needs of churches and the need for common sense in applying the regulations.
The next meeting would be on 18th April 2008 at Church House, Westminster.
The Ringing World, January 25, 2008, page 79