Ding-dong over 'nuisance noise' sees Kendal Town Hall bells silenced at night (From The Westmorland Gazette)
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Ding-dong over 'nuisance noise' sees Kendal Town Hall bells silenced at night
KENDAL’S town hall bells are to be silenced after 11pm for the first time since the Second World War.
The late-night chimes, which ring out every 15 minutes - have taken their toll on business owners, residents and visitors for decades with scores of complaints registered with South Lakeland District Council.
Until now, environmental health officers have ruled sound levels to be ‘appropriate’.
But the council is to ring the changes following a 24-hour noise monitoring exercise at the nearby Rainbow Tavern pub.
It recorded ‘unacceptable’ sound levels categorised as ‘statutory noise nuisance’ under the Environmental Protection Act.
The chimes are now to fall silent between 11pm and 7am.
But not everyone is happy, with claims that Kendal’s charm and history is being ‘eroded’.
Rainbow Tavern landladies Carol Page and Sharon Clement said the bells disrupted their sleep, drove guests mad and risked ‘crippling’ their business.
“We get so many complaints from guests,” said Miss Page, 51, who took over the pub with Mrs Clement, 55, in May.
“If someone complains on Trip Advisor it could cripple us. The noise was looked at several years ago but wasn’t recorded.”
Guidance from the World Health Organisation states that noise levels should not exceed 45 decibels, but the loudest Rainbow Tavern recording measured 79.
Miss Page said the business was losing money from four empty rooms she felt ‘too embarrassed’ to let out.
And she said 95 per cent of guests had commented on the bells, with one disgruntled customer even posting a video recording on YouTube.
She added: “I’m having a shocking time sleeping. I’m in the attic and the sound bounces around the room. When guests come down, we’re embarrassed to serve them coffee.”
Patricia Hovey, of Kendal Civic Society, said: “So, for 120 years we’ve all been subjected to unacceptable noise?
“I think it’s ridiculous – certain noises are unacceptable but this isn’t one of them, it is part of the town’s charm and history.
“I don’t see why they should be turned off, it should be for local people to decide.”
Mrs Hovey said people new to the town should be prepared to ‘accept what is already here’.
“If the carillon was playing at night, that could be very disturbing but it’s just the chimes,” she said.
“If you move next to a pig farm, you wouldn’t complain about the smell.”
Miss Page said: “One or two people have argued that the bells have been around for a long time, but so was slavery.
“It’s a beautiful sound and we respect tradition, but I don’t understand who benefits at night.”
In the 1980s, a council leisure and tourism committee found support for and against retaining the bells at night, but decided not to silence them.
The midnight and 3am carillon was last silenced in the 1940s after protests from residents of the then Angel Hotel.
Mayor of Kendal Coun John Willshaw said he was sad to see the night-time bells go but accepted that evidence showed they were ‘louder than they should be’.
He added: “I am disappointed, but the bells have been ringing for years so I can understand the issue is now being raised.”
Historian Trevor Hughes said Kendal was losing part of its heritage.
“It’s the thin edge of a great big wedge and another erosion of our historical character,” said Mr Hughes.
“We have been losing the yards for years. I’m not happy about it – but at least we will still have them during the day.”
An SLDC spokeswoman said: “Investigations discovered the noise emitted by the bells during the night was significantly higher than acceptable levels quoted in both national and international guidelines.
“The noise is regular, every 15 minutes, and most intrusive on the hour, where the chimes are extended, and when the 6am carillon sounds.
“To ensure this is addressed to meet acceptable levels, it has been decided that the bells will be turned off during the hours from 11pm to 7am.”