MP calls for council meeting prayers

Burnley Town Hall, by Peter Seavers
Burnley Town Hall, by Peter Seavers

Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle has revealed he would like prayers to be said before council meetings.

Mr Birtwistle, who is still a councillor on Burnley Borough Council, was speaking in a House of Commons debate on the Local Government (Religious Observances Bill) proposed by Rossendale MP Jake Berry.

During the debate, Mr Birtwistle said he would ask the chief executive to introduce prayers before full council meetings.

Mr Birtwistle said: “When I arrived here in 2010, I was not aware of prayers before meetings. I have been a councillor in Burnley for more than 32 years and we have never had anything like that.

“I think that some of our meetings would be much better if we could have something such as that before we started.

“People would appreciate the views of other people in the council chamber if they had a couple of minutes’ reflection before the meeting started.”

Mr Birtwistle also revealed that he sometimes attends a chapel for members in the House of Commons.

He added: “It is peaceful and quiet and sets people’s minds up for what might happen that day, and they can view the future with a little more resolution.

“When I was the Mayor of Burnley in 2002, we had a chaplain, but I used the chaplain only for Mayor’s Sunday.

“What a wonderful thing it would be if we could have the Mayor’s chaplain conducting a brief service of prayers before the council meeting.

“We have only seven a year. It is not too onerous to have the Mayor’s chaplain coming to the council seven times for a couple of minutes on a Wednesday night before the council meeting starts.”