‘York Minster do not tolerate any questioning of their decisions’ – Bell ringers respond to statement

Ringing in the new… York Minster. Photograph © Allan Harris on Flickr
17 Oct 2016 @ 7.54 pm
| News

Following the press conference in York Minster on Monday (October 17), the bell ringers have given a robust response.

The Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu issued a statement saying the decision to disband the voluntary bell ringing team followed a safeguarding investigation.

It said: “Some members of the York Minster Society of Change Ringers have consistently challenged the Chapter’s authority on this and other important matters.”

But the society took issue with this version of events, saying in their own statement that “whilst we have challenged the Chapter on the fairness of some decisions, we strongly refute any suggestion that we disregarded the implementation of any of their policies”.

The statement continued:

All of Chapter’s policies have been implemented in full, at all times. YMSCR take health and safety, security and safeguarding with the utmost seriousness. The Dean and Chapter have not been able to point to any evidence that suggests the contrary.

Individuals within YMSCR have privately expressed concerns to the Dean and Chapter over whether due process was followed during their action regarding a member of the bell ringing community.

As a direct result of doing so, the entire team had their volunteer agreements terminated.

This demonstrates that York Minster do not tolerate any questioning of their decisions, or of the processes by which these were made, even when that questioning is conducted politely and in private.

Plea for a meeting

Jules Bellerby of BBC Radio York, Dean Faull and Archbishop Sentamu at the press conference
Jules Bellerby of BBC Radio York, Dean Faull and Archbishop Sentamu at the press conference

The York Minster statement said: “Repeated disregard of the Chapter’s attempts to fully implement the Church’s national policies for safeguarding, health and safety and security meant that decisive action was required.”

“If this was the reason,” the society said, “we do not understand why this was not communicated to us at the time, and why the Dean and Chapter misled the public by releasing several statements contradicting this.

“We are deeply disappointed that Dean Faull and Archbishop Sentamu have decided to release their statement this afternoon without any prior communication or consultation with YMSCR.

“Now, more than ever, we feel the need to sit down and talk in private with the Dean and Chapter of York Minster to discuss these issues. We make a direct appeal to Dean Vivienne Faull and Archbishop John Sentamu to make contact and to arrange this meeting.”