Thursday 22 February 2024
6.4 C

‘Dismay’ after prayers before council meetings scrapped

The Conservatives at Newark and Sherwood District Council said they are ‘dismayed’ that the authority will no longer hold prayers before its meetings.

Chair of the authority Cllr Celia Brooks (Lab) told a full council meeting on July 18 that councillors should now instead take part in a ‘moment of contemplation’.

But Rhona Holloway, leader of the Conservative group, said they were not consulted on the decision.

She said starting the full council meeting with a prayer is something the authority has done “for many years”.

It comes after the Conservatives at the authority suffered a major defeat in the May local elections which saw the leader and deputy leader lose their seats.

- Advertisement -

The Tories took just 14 of the 39 available seats, compared to the 29 they held after the 2019 elections.

The Labour Party and Independents won 11 seats each while the Liberal Democrats won three seats.

Labour Cllr Paul Peacock is now the leader of the authority.

Cllr Brooks said during the full council meeting: “The residents of Newark and Sherwood are now represented by councillors with a wide range of political views – or none, as was the choice of the electorate.

“The council is a new, progressive model and is keen to work hard fr the benefit and wellbeing of all our residents.

“With this in mind, councillors will now be asked to spend a moment before the full council meetings in contemplation of the business of the meeting, or other matters from the wider community which may impact on our residents.

“It is felt that this being a replacement for pre-meeting prayers demonstrates the way in which the council wishes to work to be inclusive of, and truly representative of, all our communities.”

But Rhona Holloway, leader of the Conservative group, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service after the meeting: “As a group, we were not consulted on this issue and were dismayed when we found out that prayers were no longer to be included as part of the Full Council meeting and instead a moment of reflection would take place.

“Starting the full council meeting with a prayer is something that we have done for many years and does set the tone of the meeting.

“I do not know if other members were consulted about this change beforehand or if this was just a decision taken by the new Chair of the Council.

“We discussed this at our pre-meeting last night and decided we would still like to continue to have a prayer before our meeting as it was important to us as a group.

“As Leader I undertook to read our usual prayer just before heading down to the civic suite for the full council meeting.”

•  Clash over finances after plans to appoint three new councillors

Follow The Wire on TikTok, Facebook, X, Instagram. Send your story to or via WhatsApp on 0115 772 0418