Poll: do you think Brexit bells should be rung as vicars and Swaffham Council object to proposal?
Brexit is back at the forefront of people’s minds as Swaffham councillors debated whether bells should be rung to signal the country leaving the European Union.
Town councillors were speaking after reverend Janet Allan, vicar of Swaffham and Sporle, said it would “not be appropriate” to ring church bells for Brexit.
She does not intend for the bells to be rung at 11pm on January 31 at the St Peter and St Paul Church, despite councillor Lindsay Beech recommending this to the town council.
“Brexit has been a very divisive issue and the Church’s focus, as the Body of Christ, needs to be on building relationships and moving forward in a spirit of hope and reconciliation,” revd Allan said.
“The church is here for everyone, regardless of which way they voted on Brexit.”
She also said the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers supported this stance as well.
Speaking before the full town council meeting on Wednesday, which she was unable to attend, revd Allan added: “[I] hope the meeting will serve to take the heat out of the Brexit debate and bring the community together, including its minorities, which I trust will be the focus of our councillors.”
The town council voted against councillor Beech’s proposal, which she said would be a “commemoration” rather than a celebration.
Councillor Shirley Matthews said: “There has been so much argument over Brexit. It has infiltrated into families. Let it rest.”
Meanwhile, a Narborough church official has followed Swaffham’s lead when calling the ringing of Brexit church bells as inappropriate.
The Rev Canon Stuart Nairn said: “If the cost of ringing Big Ben is £500,000, given the amount of hospitals in need, is that an appropriate sum to pay?
“The reality is it’s still an issue that divides the nation.”
Councillor Beech’s proposal to commemorate Brexit on January 31 did not receive a seconder during a full council meeting yesterday evening.
She told the council: “I am bringing this to the council as a request from quite a number of residents.”
Conservative councillor Stewart Bell said: "The fact is we will move on and no longer hear about it, so it may not be bad thing to mark it as the end as a new beginning."
But Residents4Residents councillor Ian Pilcher referred to “disharmony” over Brexit.
And Independent councillor Brendan Holmes added: "If people want to celebrate, they can celebrate but as a council we do not need to be getting involved with it."
More by this authorBen Hardy