Thursday 17 October 2019

New arrival’s plea to turn off the Westerkerk bells arouses local ire

Skating on the Prinsengracht with the Westertoren in the distance. Photo: Luuc van der Raaij

Amsterdam city council will on Wednesday debate a letter from a new arrival to the city’s Jordaan district who wants to stop the bells of the Westerkerk church ringing throughout the night, because they are too loud.

The English-language letter, addressed to ‘Dear sir or madam’, is just nine lines long, and proposes silencing the bell between midnight and 6am because the ‘hourly sound’ is ‘very loud’.

The letter is on the agenda for the full meeting of the city council on Wednesday, with a recommendation it be referred to a sub committee. But locals are already up in arms and Twitter is full of comments urging the ‘expat’ to go home or move to a new house.

Nico Meijer, a local councillor for the older people’s party PvdO said in a reaction that ‘if this is what you are suggesting, you should not be here. This sound is part of Amsterdam’.

And cultural heritage expert Walther Schoonenberg told the Telegraaf the hapless expat would get used to the noise in time. ‘I have to ask why he or she chose to live in this area,’ he said.

Others comment that a letter from an ordinary Amsterdammer would just end up in the bin rather than being considered worthy of a debate by the full council.

There have been earlier attempts to silence the bells, the last one being 13 years ago, but that was eventually dropped after locals protested.

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