Cromer’s civic service saved after councillor calls Christian content ‘offensive’
Two long-serving Cromer town councillors have stepped in to organise this year's civic service after the mayor suggested it be shelved and one member called the Christian event 'offensive'.
The annual service is held in various churches in the town, and honours organisations including the RNLI, the police and the fire service for the work they do in the community.
But at Monday evening's town council meeting, the event looked to be in jeopardy when town mayor Greg Hayman suggested it should not go ahead this year.
He said: 'There are plenty of things that we do and we probably shouldn't have it this year.'
And he added that organising the event 'added more to the busy clerk's workload'.
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Town clerk Julie Chance pointed out that the mayor was the host of the service, and it was the council's decision whether to have it each year.
Scott Eastwood said: 'This is a Christian service, and we are meant to be a multi-cultural society. For me it's almost offensive.'
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He added that it was 'forcing Christian belief' on people and said any service should include 'Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Jews and other religions'.
Tim Bartlett said: 'We are having a secular civic reception anyway. We can give thanks to organisations there. We don't need to do it twice.'
And new councillor Marion Saunders said many other councils had civic services that were 'more inclusive'.
As the debate played out, Mr Hayman suggested that those who felt strongly about keeping the service might like to volunteer to run it.
Hilary Thompson and Tony Nash then stepped forward to organise the service this year.
Miss Thompson said: 'A lot of things fall into place because of tradition. I know that we do not force Christian belief on people, but this is traditionally a Christian country.
'They are our roots. But we do acknowledge other religions.'
She added: 'This is a way of bringing together police, fire service, coastguards, the lifeboat and representatives from other organisations in the town to give thanks.
'It's the tradition and I would be disappointed to see it go.'
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