Prayers Back On The Agenda
Tuesdays meeting of the full membership of Cornwall Council has included on the agenda a recommendation to bring back the practice of having prayers said at the start of a council meeting, or continue the current practice post the Bideford Council High Court case. That recommendation is as follows:
(1) That it be determined whether or not to revert to the practice of holding prayers during Full Council meetings following consideration of the options set out at paragraph 3.8 of this report; and
(2) If Members decide to include prayers as part of the formal Council agenda of future meetings, it be agreed that both elected Members and officers be free to remain but not to participate in or to leave the Council Chamber for the duration of the agenda item on prayers.
Now you might be wondering way the council is discussing this after all the High Court has given judgement (subject to any appeal). The simple reason is since February 18th The Localism Act became law. This piece of legislation gives councils the power to do this under Section 1 of the Localism Act, provides in general terms, a local authority has the power to do anything an individual may do. This considerably broadens the power of Council beyond the powers contained in the 1972 Act which were the subject of the Bideford judgment.
My view is if, and I suspect there will be some resistance to prayers being part of council business, I would like to see prayers from different faiths. After all, not everyone at the council, or in Cornwall is a Anglican. However, nothing is ever simple, especially at Cornwall Council.