16th March 2017

2017 Consultation


1.0 Introduction

At the 2016 Central Council meeting the Methods Committee took on the task of preparing a more far-reaching revision of the current Decisions, following the liberalisations that were made at that meeting. The terms of this review include:

  1. Relaxation of restrictions imposed by the current Decisions (for example peals on simulators, methods that are false in their plain course)
  2. Requirements on how peals are reported
  3. Requirements for Record Peals
  4. The process for recording and handling non-compliant peals
  5. The structure and presentation of the Decisions, and definitions of the terms used in them.

The committee intends to propose some changes at the 2017 Central Council Meeting, with a more far-reaching revision in 2018. In this article we give an outline of the changes we are considering in these two revisions.


To make things easier to follow we describe the intended effect of these changes, rather providing formalized wording. We divide them into four areas:

  • Methods
  • Peals
  • Reporting and Records
  • “Compliance”

By “Compliance” we mean the question of what to do when a band rings something that doesn’t conform, in particular something that doesn’t conform with the requirements for peals.

We realise that we aren’t going to be able to please everyone, but would like confirmation that the changes that we are considering would be broadly acceptable to ringers in general. We are therefore asking:

  • Which of these changes should definitely be made?
  • Are any of them going too far, if so which?
  • Are there other things that should be considered?
  • Can you see any problems that might be introduced by these changes which would need to be safeguarded against?

We will adjust the list of changes based on the feedback that we receive.

We conclude this introduction by discussing the reason for having a framework of Decisions at all. In an earlier consultation process we asked about this. Three important themes emerged:

  1. Providing a consistent scheme for naming methods, so that standardised collections of method names can be maintained
  2. Providing definitions of types of ringing performance (in particular peals), so that consistent records can be maintained
  3. Giving guidelines for how peals should be reported, for the benefit of record keepers

We also think that it is important that the Decisions reflect current ringing practices and that they aren’t seen as inhibiting what ringers feel they can ring.

2.0 Methods

The definition of a method has been broadened a lot in recent years, and we now accept many things that would be have been regarded as “illegitimate” even as recently as the 1980’s. However there are still areas which have caused controversy in recent years.

* Change A. Widen the definition of a Method by allowing methods  that are false in the plain course.  This change would, for example,  allow Not A Block Major to be reclassified as a Surprise method.

Change B. Widen the definition of a Method by allowing methods to have a single-lead plain course. There are some technical issues with this change which we’d need to address but it would, for example, let you give a name to a 24 of Minimus or a 120 of Doubles that has a structure that doesn’t obviously decompose into leads.

Change C. Disentangle Peals and Methods. Allow peals that aren’t described using conventional methods, provided that the composition of the changes rung is described in an unambiguous fashion. This would allow for extents of “Dixon’s Bob Minor” to be included in peals.

3.0 Peal Ringing

A number of the current Decisions are concerned with what you can ring in a peal and how you can ring it. While the great majority of peals rung do comply with these Decisions, there are some that don’t. There’s also the possibility that some of these restrictions are preventing ringers from trying new things.

There could be a concern that relaxing requirements would in some way “lower the bar” for peal ringing. On balance the Committee feels that the changes we list here won’t do this in a significant way, but we are seeking the views of peal ringers.

*Change A. Allow peals to be rung in a wider range of places:

  • Relax the requirement for bells to be heard outside the tower.
  • Allow peals on simulators (but still requiring human ringers). We would include a definition of what a simulator is, and specify the minimum amount of human interaction that is required.

Change B. Allow a wider range of types of peal:

  • Allow peals with multiple cover bells not necessarily ringing in order, for example Doubles with 7,6,8 cover
  • Allow peals that include stages more than 1 apart, e.g. Triples and Caters, with multiple cover bells for the lower stages
  • Allow peals that include more than two different stages, for example Doubles, Triples, Caters and Cinques in a single peal
  • Allow peals with one or more “leading bells” i.e. bells that ring continuously at the beginning of each row, without taking part in the changes (the opposite to a traditional cover bell)

Change C. Allow a wider range of peal lengths. The current Decisions were amended in 2016 to allow the inclusion of a touch less than an extent in a peal of Triples or lower stages (for example a 5100 of Doubles made up of 42 extents and a 60). However there are still two areas where the requirements for Triples and below differ from the requirements for Major and above. This change would bring all stages into line.

  • Lower the minimum number of changes for peals of Triples or lower stages from 5040 changes to 5000 changes
  • Allow a peal of Major to have more than 40320 changes. At the moment if you go above 40320 you have to ring 80640.

*Change D. Allow a wider range of peal constructions. The 2016 amendment allows the inclusion of touch less than an extent in a peal of Triples or lower stages, but does not allow the inclusion of a touch greater than extent that isn’t a multi-extent block. This is something of an anomaly, as for example you could have two different 5100’s of Doubles containing the same rows, one being made up of 42 extents and 60, which is allowed, and one made up of 41 extents and a 180, which isn’t. Removing this constraint would open up a new set of possibilities for composers.

  • Allow peals of Triples or lower stages to include not more than one touch in which each row appears at most one more time than any other row.

*Change E. Relax the conditions on how a peal is performed. There are two Decisions which, although they are worthy goals, are not always adhered to in practice, and this change proposes to relax them:

  • Relax the requirement that “Any shift or error in ringing shall be corrected immediately.” It would be more realistic to use a phrase like “as quickly as possible”.
  • Relax the requirement that says “No error in calling shall be corrected later than during the change at which the call or change of method … would properly take effect.” Again it would be more realistic to say “as quickly as possible”.
  • These relaxations could be offset by adding a statement that a band should strive to maintain a high standard of ringing.

4.0 Reporting and Records

In this section we suggest a number of other possible changes, mainly related to how peals are reported, and to do with Record Lengths.

Change A. Record Lengths

  • Permit long lengths not meeting the additional requirements for record peals to be treated as compliant peals, even though they are not official (CC-recognised) Record Lengths.
  • Remove the requirement for interested 3rd parties to be able to listen to handbell record lengths > 10,000 changes

Change B. Reporting via Electronic Media. There are several places where the current Decisions make explicit mention of The Ringing World. These Decisions date from the era before widespread use of the Internet and the existence of BellBoard, so it would be helpful to clarify whether the term “The Ringing World” includes BellBoard or not.

  • Allow notification of Record Lengths via BellBoard. We are aware of the value of having a paper record, so this could be accompanied with a requirement that the notification also appear in The Ringing World.
  • Allow publication of new methods via BellBoard. We could ask The Ringing World to ensure that details of the performance used to name the method appear in the paper as well.
  • Allow peals submitted to BellBoard to be included in the Peals Analysis, even if they aren’t submitted for publication in The Ringing World.
  • Encourage the reporting of the composition when peals are reported via electronic media.

Change C. Reporting Multi-method peals

  • Allow other forms of splicing to be called Spliced. At the moment all changes of method have to be at the lead-end or half-lead.
  • Allow a peal that is made up of multiple extents (or round blocks) to be described as Spliced if at least one of the extents or round blocks is Spliced. We could go further and describe any multi-method peal as Spliced.
  • Relax the requirement to list all the methods, changes of method etc. rung in a peal of Spliced, provided that the peal report includes a non-ambiguous reference to the composition that was used.

5.0 Compliance

One further issue that we need to address is the process for handling peals that don’t comply with the requirements for peals. The number of non-compliant peals rung is relatively small, and the relaxations listed earlier might reduce them still further, but they can be a cause of controversy.

Our preferred approach is a “Reactive” one. The Methods Committee would be empowered to review non-compliant peals and, if it judges it appropriate, to make modifications to the Decisions to accommodate such a peal, ahead of the next Central Council meeting. That meeting would have the right to review and reject these changes but if it doesn’t reject them that peal (and other similar ones rung subsequently) would be treated as being compliant.

Other options that we have considered are:

  1.  “All or Nothing” system as today. With this option, there’s a fixed set of requirements and a peal is either compliant or non-compliant. There is no provision for reclassifying a noncompliant peal as compliant.
  2. “Two-tier”. Have a fixed set of requirements, but have a second tier for peals that don’t strictly comply with them with a name that’s more benign than “non-compliant”. We would need some way to exclude things from the second tier that are obvious hoaxes, and things that fail some kind of “reasonableness” test (e.g. a peal consisting of just one change).
  3. “Guidelines”. State that the requirements on peals are guidelines, and remove the concept of compliance or non-compliance. Leave it up to people who keep records to decide whether they want to include a particular peal or not.
  4. “Recognition”. Have a fixed set of requirements and a process whereby a non-compliant peal could nevertheless be classified as compliant. We had a version of this prior to 2002, when the CC voted on whether to accept such peals or not.

Option 1 is what we have today. It is easy to operate, since it doesn’t require decisions to be taken on particular cases, but it has the problem that it is seen to be judgmental and prescriptive. The same applies to Option 2.

Option 3 is also easy to operate, and it’s similar to the regime for Quarter Peals. However it’s our impression that ringers are looking for something that is more formal than this.

Option 4 is still thought of as the status quo by many ringers, even though things were changed in 2002. In the past we saw inconsistent decisions being made – something might be rejected one year, but a similar thing be accepted the next. In contrast the “Reactive” option that we propose has the advantage that the Decision change gets formalized and so can be applied again in the future.

One other change in this area is to remove Decision (D)A.12 which says “Any objection which may be taken to a peal other than one with respect to the truth of the composition, shall be raised in writing to the conductor and Society concerned at the earliest date, and in any case within one month after the publication in The Ringing World.” This implies a right of complaint which has been rarely used, and it’s not clear what, if anything, is supposed to happen if someone does raise a complaint.

6.0 Out of Scope for 2017/18

We are aware of a number of further possible changes, but we propose to defer them for now either because we think they are likely to prove too controversial, or because they require further study and work.

  • Allow jump changes in methods
  • Allow jump changes in peals
  • Remove the requirement for a peal to start and end with rounds.
  • Allow the “null change” (repeated row) in peals and methods
  • Peals on 2 and 3 bells
  • Allow relay peal ringing (ringers handing over to other ringers during the course of the peal)
  • Formalised requirements for Quarter Peals
  • Changes to Method extension
  • Changes to method classification and requirements on method names
  • Extend the Central Council Analysis to include performances shorter than peal lengths
  • Make provision for a method to have alternative names, to resolve issues where multiple names have been used. Some safeguards would be needed to make sure that this isn’t abused.
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