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Proposal to ring bells for Brexit ditched by town council

PUBLISHED: 11:45 16 January 2020 | UPDATED: 12:02 16 January 2020

Swaffham Town Council has ditched a proposal to ring church bells on Brexit day after Revd Janet Allan ruled out the possibility. Picture: Archant/St Peter and St Paul Church

Swaffham Town Council has ditched a proposal to ring church bells on Brexit day after Revd Janet Allan ruled out the possibility. Picture: Archant/St Peter and St Paul Church

© Archant Norfolk 2013

A proposal to ring church bells on Brexit day has been ditched by a town council after a vicar branded it "deeply inappropriate".

Swaffham town councillor Lindsay Beech had proposed ringing the church bells at 11pm on January 31 to mark Britain's exit from the EU. Picture:  ArchantSwaffham town councillor Lindsay Beech had proposed ringing the church bells at 11pm on January 31 to mark Britain's exit from the EU. Picture: Archant

Swaffham town councillor Lindsay Beech had proposed ringing the bells at St Peter and St Paul Church at 11pm on January 31, signalling the moment Britain leaves the European Union.

But earlier this week the church's vicar, the Rev Janet Allan, ruled out the bells being rung in her parish.

"My view is that Brexit has been such a divisive issue that it would be deeply inappropriate to ring the bells," said Rev Allan. "It is simply not a matter for church bells to be involved with.

"Our job as a church is to bring people together, so no - we will not be ringing our bells in this situation.

Revd Janet Allan, vicar at St Peter and St Paul Church in Swaffham, has ruled out ringing the bells to mark Brexit day. Picture: St Peter and St Paul ChurchRevd Janet Allan, vicar at St Peter and St Paul Church in Swaffham, has ruled out ringing the bells to mark Brexit day. Picture: St Peter and St Paul Church

"The Christian church is about hope and about reconciliation. Brexit is instead a political issue that has deeply divided us as a nation, and churches are hopefully focused on trying to bring everybody together."

On Wednesday evening Mrs Beech's proposal was discussed at Swaffham Town Council's latest meeting and, in line with Rev Allan's verdict, councillors opted not to explore it further.

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Richard Bishop, clerk at the town council, said: "Some members of the public had made the suggestion in the first place, so the councillor concerned was just bringing the matter to the council's attention.

The vicar at St Peter and St Paul Church in Swaffham has ruled out ringing the bells to mark Brexit day. Picture: ArchantThe vicar at St Peter and St Paul Church in Swaffham has ruled out ringing the bells to mark Brexit day. Picture: Archant

"We took Rev Allan's input to the meeting and the council decided not to pursue the proposal on similar grounds.

"Brexit has been a divisive issue and maybe not something the town council should be involved with. This is a period when the country should be coming together, so that was probably in the back of councillors' minds."

The Diocese of Norwich has said churches in Norfolk and Waveney are permitted to make their own decisions on ringing bells to mark Brexit.

It has, however, encouraged parishes to keep their Christian ethos in mind.

A spokesman said: "The Diocese of Norwich has no policy on the ringing of church bells for Brexit.

"We would encourage consideration of the wider feelings of the local community, recognising the variety of views.

"Our Christian response is always one of hope and reconciliation."

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