COUNCILLORS in Cirencester have voted to scrap opening their meetings with a prayer.

Town councillors supported the motion at their monthly meeting last week in a bid to make it more inclusive.

Cllr Gary Selwyn said when he attended his first council meeting he felt excluded from the minute it started because of the prayer.

He added: "I believe prayers will be outlawed in council meetings. If we want to include people from all five wards having a pledge might be the way forward."

Cllr Shirley Alexander supported the idea: "This level of local government is steeped in Christian tradition but I don't think what we're suggesting here would take that away."

Cllr John Hughes added: "It's important to recognise that even in Cirencester we have people of many different faiths. I want to see more people arriving here for our meetings."

But mayor Cllr Andy Lichnowski said the payer was already non-denominational, while Cllr Geoffrey Adams, who wrote the original prayer, said keeping it still seemed reasonable.

Instead Cllr Adams proposed they begin meetings with a pledge, which used the same wording as the original prayer but omitted "Lord" and "Amen". He said: "I would have thought that was a happy compromise."

Members voted in favour of his recommendation but five councillors abstaining from the vote.

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