The bell of the Victoria Hall in Ash, Surrey has chimed merrily for over a 100 years. Each quarter of an hour, the bell rings out and on the hour, every hour, its peels can be heard across the village.
Locals have thus far survived unscathed this regular, gentle ear-bashing, but the addition of a single new resident threatens to bring costly change.
On moving to the village in September, and despite reputedly viewing the property at least five times previous to exchange, a new resident has lodged a Health & Safety complaint regarding the chiming. The weak position of the trust who runs the hall, who have only just climbed out of a perilous financial position following £90,000 of repairs over a five year period, means that the complaint must go unopposed. Even if they were to fight, they have been advised that they would likely lose.
The result is a circa £2,000 bill for the trust to find to install a bespoke timer and a ban on chiming between the hours of 11pm and 7am.
Dave Brown, Chairman of the Management Committee, is understandably disappointed:
“Frustrated is the word. The bell has been ringing for 100 years, and the money will have to be found and will leave a dent in our finances.”
“I’ve spoken to the previous owner of the property in question and he was really quite scathing about the decision to move near to the hall when you know it has a bell.
“I’m told that legally I don’t have a leg to stand on, and the Charities Commission would be on my back if I fought an un-winnable case. The law has no respect for history.”
Nigel Manning, Chairman of Ash Parish Council, added:
“I’m a bit miffed about it, to be honest. You should probably find out what’s there before you move into a house.”
In the last 15 months, the Hall has raised more than £3,000 for charities from its regular quiz nights. Mr Brown said, however, that the proceeds from January’s quiz would probably have to go towards making up the costs from fitting the timer.
Written on the Victoria Hall is the phrase: “Deeds, not words, prove a man’s worth”.
Perhaps the complainer in this instance may have changed their mind, and avoided troubling an already hard-pressed local trust, had they read this simple statement.
SJ / LCB 01.02.15