Page last updated at 15:39 GMT, Friday, 25 July 2008 16:39 UK

Church protest over closure plan

Parishioners start to chain themselves to the church gates
The diocese said parishioners would not have to travel far for Sunday Mass

A group of parishioners chained themselves to the railings of their church in protest at plans by the Diocese of Leeds to close and sell it.

About 20 people took part in the demonstration outside St John the Evangelist Church in Allerton Bywater, near Castleford.

They had hoped to stop church surveyors gaining access to value the land.

But when the surveyors failed to show up, the parishioners held a mass outside the church instead.

They told BBC Look North they were angry that the Bishop of Leeds, Arthur Roche, seemed to be ignoring their views.

Malcolm Brumwell said: "We have not had our say. He has not replied to any of the submissions that we have made during the period of consultation and not even acknowledged the reciept of two of three of them.

"We have had no contact with him at all and we are very very angry."

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Protesters explain why they do not want the church to be sold

Patricia Bellwood said: "I am not happy at all because my ancestors, my mum's parents from what I have been told, collected and they built this church brick by brick and I am just devastated by it.

"I just don't see any reason whatsoever why. We are a thriving parish, we have got a good community and we do well.

"I just feel it's a sin [to close the church]."

A statement by the Diocese of Leeds said: "Recent decades have seen rapid growth in the number of parishes and over-localisation.

"The bishop appreciates the pain felt by those most affected by these changes but they are still generously provided for and will not have far to travel for Sunday Mass."


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