Let it chime - complaint about village church bells withdrawn

The bells of a Perthshire village church will continue to ring out at night after people power led to a noise nuisance complaint being withdrawn.

Environmental health officers dropped their fledgling investigation into a complaint about Errol Parish Church following discussions with local councillor Angus Forbes and the unidentified complainer.

That will mean the bells can ring on, much to the delight of Rev John Macgregor and the hundreds of local people who rallied in their support.

Rev John Macgregor
Rev John Macgregor and Errol Parish Church's bell. Photograph courtesy of The Courier.

Speaking to the Courier newspaper which first published the story, Mr Macgregor said he had been left stunned by the “phenomenal support” shown by the community.

He also thanked the individual who contacted Perth and Kinross Council for being “gracious enough” to withdraw their complaint.

More than 150 people signed a petition looking to ensure the bells continued to ring out.

Over 400 took to the village’s social media page to voice their support.

Integral

Mr Macgregor said: “When I first posted I thought I might get support from two or three people who post regularly on local issues.

“I most certainly did not expect to get 400 or so people writing to back the bells. That is almost the entire population.

“I was delighted that so many people see them and the church as such an integral part of the village and village life.

“Many locals call the church the ‘Cathedral of the Carse’ and that was also mentioned in a number of the posts.

“I am so pleased by the response.”

Mr Macgregor said he had been told that some people were more sensitive to noise than others but said he too believed the bells were part of village life.

“I have only been here at Errol for a year and when I arrived I did think to myself ‘do these bells ring all the time’, but now I don’t notice them,” he added.

“It is actually quite a gentle peal – it is not Big Ben.”

Gracious

The resident had claimed the bells disturbed them as they had their windows open during summer evenings.

Errol Parish Church’s bells, however, are mechanical and need to be wound up every three days – meaning they cannot simply be switched on and off.

While their concerns caused consternation, Mr Macgregor added: “I would also like to say that I understand that the bells might be seen as a nuisance at night.

"If it had been an option to turn the bells off at night the church would have considered it, but as the system is mechanical and not electrical, there is only one option, on or off.

“We have to remember that the person who made the complaint was gracious enough to call the council and withdraw it.”

Delight

Conservative councillor for the Carse of Gowrie Ward, Angus Forbes, said he was delighted with the outcome of talks.

“After discussions between myself, the council’s environment team and the complainer, the complaint was withdrawn,” he added.

“I am absolutely delighted that the church bells will now ring on, hopefully for many hundreds of years, and that the issue has been resolved.

“The residents of Errol feel passionately about these bells, and rightly so.

“They are an integral part of village life.

“I have suggested that the church run a special service of thanks for the bells and I hope they will be able to offer this.”

Mr Macgregor said “I’m certainly up for that.”