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British prime minister weighs in on silencing of Big Ben

Europe
16.08.2017
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
London (dpa) - British Prime Minister Theresa May has weighed in on the debate about whether the chimes of London‘s iconic Big Ben should be silenced during years of restoration work.

"It can‘t be right for Big Ben to be silent for four years," May said during a visit to the southern city of Portsmouth on Wednesday, as reported by the Press Association.

She called on parliament to "urgently" review the plans.

The building which houses the British parliament, the Palace of Westminster, is undergoing extensive renovation works.

The clock tower at the north end of the palace which houses the famous Big Ben bell is up next, with work expected to start on Monday and last for four years.

To protect building workers‘ hearing, it was proposed that the 120-decibel bell should be silenced during the renovation. The noise level is the equivalent of a police siren.

"Of course we want to ensure people‘s safety at work but it can‘t be right for Big Ben to be silent for four years," the Press Association reported May as saying.

Brexit Secretary David Davis said the plan to stop the chimes was "mad," and rejected the health and safety concerns over noise levels.

Some politicians have suggested it be rung less frequently during the works.

Big Ben has rung every quarter hour almost without interruption for 157 years. The 13.7-ton bell was briefly silent during renovation work in 2007, and before that between 1983 and 1985.

The bell was named after civil engineer and politician Sir Benjamin Hall (1802-1867).

 

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