A long-standing tradition of saying prayers before meetings of the full Isle of Wight Council is being abolished - after the new chairman said he didn't agree with it.
The issue was due to be a motion on the agenda of the first full council meeting last night (Wednesday) after the election, but with Cllr Geoff Brodie becoming chair it was at his discretion whether or not the practice would continue.
While prayers are said at other local authorities, it is at the discretion of the chair as to whether the practice takes place.
Under the previous chair, former Cllr George Cameron, prayers were said by archdeacon, The Ven Peter Leonard.
Cllr Brodie has been fighting, what he describes as, ‘discriminatory’ prayers since he became an Isle of Wight councillor in 2005 and has previously left meetings after being criticised for not attending prayers by former council leader, Andy Sutton.
Before the meeting, Cllr Brodie said he just wanted it to stop.
After being voted in as chairman of the full council (in a 20 to 18 vote against Cllr Ray Redrup), Cllr Brodie withdrew his motion.
As an atheist, Cllr Brodie said he would not be appointing anybody to conduct any ‘faith business’ before the full council.
“I am a non-believer, you will have to respect that. If people want to take prayers or have periods of contemplation before full council I am more than happy to see that but it will not be part of the formal part of this agenda.
“That is who I am and the majority of people accept that.”
During the first face-to-face meeting of the council since the COVID pandemic began, Cllr Claire Critchison was also appointed Vice-Chair and Cllr Lora Peacey-Wilcox voted in as leader, a new alliance group taking control of the Isle of Wight Council.