POLL: Move to take prayers off Sheringham Town Council agenda branded ‘an attack on the English way of life’

Opening prayers will no longer be on the formal agenda at Sheringham Town Council - thanks to a national ruling that one councillor called 'an attack on the English way of life'.

Some members were angry at having to make the decision, which followed a landmark ruling that councils have no legal right to include the item on their agendas.

The High Court decision came after a legal challenge to Bideford Town Council by atheist former member Clive Bone. It has resulted in numerous councils removing prayers completely - or holding them before the formal business begins.

On Monday, Cromer vicar The Rev Canon David Court was invited by Cromer town mayor Greg Hayman to pray before the meeting was officially opened.

And the following evening, The Rev Colin Sherwood, Sheringham's methodist minister, prayed at the start of the official Sheringham Town Council meeting for what could be the last time.

A few minutes later, the councillors voted to remove the item from future meetings - but said they would still invite Mr Sherwood to offer prayers before the agenda began.

After hearing from councillor Peter Cox that including prayers on formal agendas contravened the 1972 local government act, town mayor Doug Smith said: 'I think this is not an attack on religion, but this is an attack on the English way of life. We resent that.'

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Madeleine Ashcroft said: 'I think it's sad that we even have to discuss this. We are a Christian country and we do take prayer seriously. It's a ridiculous situation and I hope prayers will soon be put on the agenda again.'

Stephen Frazer said: 'I've got very serious issues with the Christian church, but on this issue I back Madeleine 100,000pc. It's wrong. The tail is wagging the dog.'

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