Published: 12:00, 07 September 2017
A letter of complaint regarding the way Dover District Council has handled its investigation into noise nuisance from St Peter’s clock chimes is expected to arrive with the authority today.
The decision to send the letter was made at an extraordinary meeting called by Sandwich Town Council on Tuesday night.
Members agreed that DDC’s investigation into the single complaint by a resident had not followed “best practice” or “taken into account the wider sensitivities”.
Cllr MJ Holloway proposed a motion asking for a full review of the matter.
He said: “In the light of overwhelming public support for the chimes of St Peter’s to be retained as they have sounded for over hundreds of years, this council agrees that the mayor should write to the leader of Dover District Council lodging a formal complaint about the way DDC officers have handled a noise nuisance complaint about St Peter’s Chimes.
“The wider Sandwich community and its organisations are concerned that DDC investigations have not followed best practice or taken into account the wider sensitivities, and are therefore flawed.
“This council therefore requests that DDC carry out a full review of this matter.”
Deputy mayor Veronica Liote who chaired the meeting in the absence of mayor Cllr Paul Graeme said the council had received five letters of complaint from various organisations in the town and seen a copy of a Save the Chimes petition which now has more than 3,000 signatures.
Cllr John Bragg suggested the letter was kept “fairly brief”.
He said: “I’ve talked to people and there is a general feeling that something has gone wrong somewhere and they want to put it right.
“I think it should be a short, to the point letter and we should get it off right away.”
It was expected to arrive with Dover District Council this morning.
The historic clock rings out the time every quarter hour throughout the day and night but due to a complaint to DDC by one resident, the chimes now face being silenced from 11pm until 7am each day.
Sandwich Local History Society and The Sandwich Society conducted a survey that found that 85% of 277 people living in close proximity to the church do not want to end the tradition. Only 15% said they would prefer for it to be silenced during the night.
District council chief executive Nadeem Aziz told residents at a public meeting last month that DDC had a statutory obligation to investigate the noise complaint.
He confirmed the chimes ring at 52-62 decibels following a study taken from the front bedroom of the St Peter’s property with the window open. The World Health Organisation’s recommended levels are 45 decibels inside and 60 decibels outside.
He said a noise abatement notice was likely, to save the council facing fines for maladministration.
An action group named Save The Chimes has since been set up.
Campaigners say the chimes are “the beating heart of Sandwich” and that it is the “thin end of the wedge” meaning if the ban is allowed to go through unchallenged, it will begin the erosion of centuries old traditions in a medieval town.
Cllr Holloway agrees. He said: “If the ban goes ahead, where does it stop? The town wants to make a stand.”