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Victory for 600-strong London Church in Lambeth Council 'noise' Battle

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Issued on behalf of the Christian Legal Centre/All Nations Centre, London

Press Release

For Immediate Release

 

12 January 2010

Victory for 600-strong London Church in Lambeth Council ‘noise’ Battle

A 600-MEMBER-strong LONDON Church has today won its legal battle against Lambeth Borough Council in a last minute out of court settlement.

The All Nations Centre in Kennington was served by Lambeth Council with a noise abatement notice on 25 September 2009, preventing the Church from amplifying their music or sermons to the congregation on threat of prosecution.

Although the Church has been at its current location for over 45 years, a small number of residents began complaining to the Council about noise levels shortly after the Church began a leaflet drop in the local community. A noise abatement notice was then served against the Church in September without any warning or discussion, contrary to Council guidelines and despite the fact that a meeting with local residents had been arranged for October.

The Church sought the advice of the Christian Legal Centre who appointed leading Human Rights barrister, Paul Diamond, to advise them.

Church leaders believed the timing of the notice and the procedural irregularities meant that there were motives involved in the case. In October 2009, senior Pastor Abraham Sackey said: “The complaint has nothing to do with the noise and everything to do with our faith. Lambeth Council are driving us out and we feel harassed.”

Local MP Kate Hoey has backed the Church throughout. In December 2009 she said: “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...It was therefore with a mixture of surprise and concern that I learned that they were served with a noise abatement notice.”

The All Nations Centre decided to go to court with the help of the Christian Legal Centre in order to appeal the notice issued against them but at the last minute the notice was withdrawn. However, the Church believe the Council’s actions have caused them considerable inconvenience and leaders claim there was no offer from the council to pay any legal fees or reimburse the church for money spent on independent sound consultants.

Pastor Sackey said: “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 leaders of the Church maintained from the very outset that the notice had nothing to do with noise but rather was further evidence of the ongoing campaign of religious hatred and intimidation against evangelical Christians.”

Onn Sein Kon, Case Manager at the Christian Legal Centre, said: “Regrettably, our case-load is increasing with Councils issuing noise abatement notices as a means of curtailing or closing churches in London. 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.

“What is really going on here is action by secularists to try and restrict Christian freedom and expression in this country. We will do all we can at the Christian Legal Centre to oppose such discrimination.”

ENDS.

For further information/interview:

Onn Sein Kon CLC: 07545696206

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