Page last updated at 12:36 GMT, Tuesday, 20 October 2009 13:36 UK

Churches ordered to 'sing softly'

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Church ordered to keep noise down

Two churches in London have been ordered to keep their singing voices down after neighbours complained about their Sunday services.

Noise abatement notices came into force in All Nations Church in Kennington and Immanuel International Christian Centre in Walthamstow earlier this month.

Christian Legal Centre described the notices as a "heavy-handed approach".

But Lambeth Council and Waltham Forest Council said the orders were a last resort after mediation failed.

Worshippers fell

Immanuel International Christian Centre was served the notice in May by Waltham Forest Council after complaints from neighbours.

The church challenged the order but its appeal was rejected by the magistrates on 8 October. The council said the church faces a fine of £20,000 if it breaks the order.

Pastor Dunni Odetoyinbo said since the order their congregation had lost about 50 of up to 150 worshippers on Sundays.

"Because we have had to cut down the drums and sing very low and even without a keyboard, most of our members are not enjoying their worship service, especially our youth, and so they go elsewhere," she said.

The All Nations' Church
The church was the latest to be served a noise abatement notice

Waltham Forest Council said it had informed the church about complaints as far back as 2007, but the notice was issued as "a last resort" after attempts at amicable resolution failed.

Lambeth Council also said it served the notice to the All Nations Church last week as a last resort.

A statement said: "This is not a ban on playing music or singing.

"We received a number of complaints from local residents about the levels of amplified noise and have discussed the issues with the church, but unfortunately the problems have continued so we have had to serve a noise abatement notice."

Andrea Williams, director of the Christian Legal Centre, which represented Immanuel International Christian Centre at the court appeal, said: "This is a very distressing, a very heavy-handed way to deal with their worship.

"Really what ought to be happening is they ought to be visited by perhaps the local authority officials and a way worked through with regard to them existing in that community."



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