A REQUEST for prayers to be said prior to Barry Town Council meetings met with a divisive response when it was discussed by councillors on Monday, June 18.

Newly-elected town mayor, Cllr Janice Charles verbally requested that prayers be said five minutes before the start of council meetings, but the idea was met with opposition.

Councillors opposing said that, unlike the Vale Council which traditionally holds prayers before meetings start, Barry Town Council had not practised the act for at least 27 years and there was no tradition or legal reason for doing so.

Councillors deferred making a decision, after a 20-minute discussion, in order to seek further information on whether it was necessary to propose a motion before taking it to vote.

Barry’s Conservative mayor Cllr Charles said she wished prayers to be said in the council chamber, but Plaid’s Castleland councillor Millie Collins said prayers could be held in the mayor’s parlour so those who didn’t want to take part could stay in the chamber.

Dyfan ward Tory councillor and Vale mayor, Leighton Rowlands said: “I have no objection to having prayers before council meetings.

“If you don’t want to take part in it just step outside like in the Vale council with Kevin Mahoney.

“I’m more than happy to have prayers here as a non-religious person myself.”

Plaid opposition leader Cllr Shirley Hodges said the council was secular and had to take into account rules and equality.

She said: “It feels like it is being imposed. It’s not part of our tradition. It’s not written in law.”

Court ward councillor, Richard Bertin opposed the request.

“This practice is just not 2018. It’s not 1918,” he said.

Council leader and Labour councillor Bronwen Brooks (Court ward) added: “I’m astounded at the fuss this is causing.

“It’s a simple choice to attend a prayer or not.

“Even Kevin Mahoney doesn’t make a fuss. He stays outside and then comes in.”

Concluding the debate, Cllr Charles added: “As a Christian I’m really upset this has upset some people.

“I feel it would benefit everybody.”

The decision was deferred to next full council in July.

Vale Sully Cllr Kevin Mahoney, cited in the discussion, said he had no objection to people praying and they could pray any time they liked outside of council time.

“Its the introduction of vanity playing in public and I don’t see the point of it,” he added.