Aldeburgh church bells may be silenced for the Aldeburgh Music Festival after residents have complained about the noise.

Aldeburgh Festival, in Aldeburgh, Suffolk, was launched 60 years ago by Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears and features the peal of the church bells, but 20 residents have complained that they disturb Sunday peace and amount to a statutory nuisance under environmental laws.

The Rev Nigel Hartley, the Vicar of St Peter and St Paul’s Church, Aldeburgh, said: ‘Our tower has stood here since the 14th century and its bells have been rung for at least 500 years. They have called the faithful to worship and reminded the less faithful of their heritage.’

Rev Hartley said that one of the petitioners had bought a house next to the church. ‘What would happen,’ he asked, ‘if someone bought a house close to Ipswich Town football stadium? Would they, on the same grounds of finding it a nuisance, be able to silence the crowds at every home game?’

A council spokesman confirmed that there had been a complaint, although said that a formal petition had not yet been received.

The spokesman said: ‘This is a matter which we hope can be resolved between the local Aldeburgh community, and we have been trying to help those discussions towards a successful resolution without it becoming a formal investigation.’

Rev Hartley said that if, due to the complaints of some residents about the noise he was ordered to silence the church bells for Sunday’s section of the Aldeburgh Festival, he would seriously consider mounting a challenge.

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