York & North Yorkshire

York Minster bells silenced after bell-ringers axed for 'new team'

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Media captionThe bells at York Minster are silent

The bells at York Minster have been silenced because the volunteer bell-ringers have been sacked.

All 30 volunteers were told by York Minster that bell-ringing activity had "ceased with immediate effect".

A spokesperson for York Minster said their "agreements were terminated" for a fully trained professional team led by a new head bell ringer.

The Minster said: "The main bells will be silent until we have recruited a new team in the New Year."

Volunteers were immediately denied access to the Minster's bell tower, the BBC understands.

Image caption A letter terminating York Minster's agreements with all of its volunteer bell-ringers was sent on Tuesday

York Minster confirmed key fobs had been withdrawn from the current volunteers, for "safety reasons as the Minster has to know who can access the building at any time".

In a letter sent to all the volunteers on Tuesday, the Reverend Canon Peter Moger said the Minster's key objective was to "have a fully trained, motivated and engaged community of staff and volunteers" by 2020.

"In order to begin this process, all current bell ringing activity will cease at the Minster, from today, Tuesday 11th October. The only exception is the ringing of the carillion."

Mr Moger said applications to join the new bell-ringing team would be "invited from everyone".

He said he wanted to bring the bell ringing team "in line with other teams across the organisation" following similar changes to its flower-arranging, brodery, collections and its police teams, which were "all adopting new structures and embracing new working practices.

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