York & North Yorkshire

Yorkshire bell-ringers 'reject York Minster plea'

York Minster
Image caption According to the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers the Minster has approached other ringers elsewhere in Yorkshire

The bells of York Minster could remain silent this Christmas after bell-ringers elsewhere reportedly rejected an invitation to ring them.

York Minster dismissed its 30 volunteer bell-ringers in October due to "safeguarding issues".

The York Press has reported that bell-ringers in Leeds have opted to stand by their colleagues and refused York's offer.

The Dean and Chapter have not responded to the BBC's request for comment.

A source close to the sacked bell-ringers told the BBC they would be willing to return for the Christmas period should the Minster have "a change of heart".

Read more about this and other stories from across York and North Yorkshire

The Minster says it has always intended to recruit a new team of volunteers by Easter 2017 and has previously said all the dismissed bell-ringers were welcome to apply.

Image caption The Minster is understood to have approached bell-ringers elsewhere with little success

Chris Mew, president of the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers, confirmed ringers elsewhere had been approached by the Minster.

He said: "It is, however, a pity that some of the former ringers could not have been suitably passed through the latest processes for volunteers including, where appropriate, [criminal record] checks, since this could have been achieved between October and December."

Mr Mew added that ringers approached by the Minster to stand in at Christmas would have to "follow their own consciences".

The Dean of York, The Very Reverend Vivienne Faull, initially said the team had been dismissed because of health and safety issues, and a wish to bring it into line with other volunteer groups.

It later emerged that there were also safeguarding issues relating to a member of the team.

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