Thursday, 31st July 2014

Mayor dubs ruling on prayer ban a bit stupid

THE banning of prayers before council meetings was today branded ‘stupid’ by the mayor of Market Drayton.

Kath Brown said if people did not like it they had the right to leave the room.

Prayers have been said at full council meetings in the town for many years – but in a landmark ruling earlier this month the High Court in London ruled that councils had ‘no power’ to say prayers as part of formal meetings and that to do so was ‘not lawful’.

It followed an objection by a councillor in Bideford, Devon, but after criticism the government has now fast-tracked a legal change.

Mrs Brown said she believed people should not be stopped from praying, whatever religion they were.

She said: “My take on it is if you don’t want to join in the prayers then you can go outside the chamber while we pray.

“Everyone has their own religion, it is a free country.

“Until it does become someone saying you can’t do it, I think it’s a bit stupid.

“Why should others be stopped from praying, I don’t see anything wrong with it.”

But it is thought local councillors will try to delay the decision until a final ruling is made by the Secretary of State, Eric Pickles.

Mrs Brown said: “The issue will be given out to members because the ruling is not written in stone yet.

“We will decide what we want to do, but people will probably ask to wait until it is sorted by the government.”

Now coming up to her sixth year on the council, Mrs Brown says prayers have always been said since she first joined and she does not recall anyone saying they did not want to join in.