Council drops complaint over ‘noisy’ church hymns

A London council which told a church its hymn singing was too loud has dropped its complaint.

Lambeth Council served All Nations Centre in Kennington with a noise abatement notice in September but before a court could hear the church’s appeal, the Council dropped the ban.

Church leaders argued that the Council had no good reason to restrict the singing in the first place.

At the time Victor Jibuike, a pastor at All Nations, commented: “The complaint against us has nothing to do with noise and everything to do with our faith”.

The church has been meeting at the All Nations Centre since the 1960s and Pastor Jibuike said they have never received a complaint about noise.

The church leaders said they began to notice opposition when it emerged they were making plans to turn a local disused school into a community centre.

Now senior Pastor Abraham Sackey says: “The Church believes that the Council’s withdrawal is an attempt to conceal what happened and which has been ongoing for some time, not only in Lambeth but nationally.”

The Christian Legal Centre (CLC), which was supporting a legal appeal against the ban, said it is experiencing an increase in cases where councils have issued noise abatement notices resulting in “the curtailing or closure of churches in London”.

Local Labour MP Kate Hoey, who has also been supporting the church, said in December: “They have been serving the local community for many years, consistently helping to improve the quality of life and overall well-being of people within the local community”.

Case Manager for CLC Onn Sein Kon criticised the use of noise abatement notices, commenting: “Success in this case sends out a clear message that this method will not work. These churches are vibrant and growing and play a critical part in their communities.”

Lambeth Council said the notice was removed following another inspection. The church has implemented a number of sound reduction measures.

The All Nations Centre case emerged in the same month as another London church’s difficulties with a Council noise ban came to light.

The local council subjected a Walthamstow church to noise restrictions following a complaint from a Muslim neighbour.

Other neighbours said the noise was not a problem, but church leaders claimed that a council official told them “this is a Muslim borough, you have to tread carefully”.

Immanuel International Christian Centre said its ability to praise God had been taken away.

In October the church lost a court appeal to lift the noise ban imposed after a complaint from Baha Uddin, who lives nearby.

Mr Uddin claimed that noise from the church prevented him from using his garden at weekends and disturbed his one-year-old daughter.

Waltham Forest Magistrates’ Court ordered the church to pay £2,250 costs and said it was only allowed to play music for 20 minutes on Sundays between 11.30am and 11.50am.

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