THE future of the opening prayer at Ilminster Town Council meetings is under review.

The Rev Alastair Wallace retired from his role as the rector in the Minster back in January and with no one to take his place there was no opening prayer at last Tuesday's full council meeting.

At the meeting it was discussed whether the convention should continue, with Cllr Andrew Shearman amongst those suggesting that the prayer should remain a part of proceedings, and could now rotate between the denominations.

Last Friday a test case bid to outlaw prayers during council meetings at Bideford Town Council was successful in the high court, when the National Secular Society and an atheist councillor, Clive Bone challenged the practice.

While this would have no impact in Ilminster, as the prayer happens before proceedings start, town councillor Linda Vijeh hit back at the ruling.

Cllr Vijeh said: “With the current economic climate I think we need all the prayers we can get. Now that we're a multi-cultural society we should be accepting of everybody's views. I don't understand why we have to be so petty.”

In a year when the Queen is prominent to most people's thoughts, it was argued that religion is still a key part of our society.

Cllr Vijeh added: “Apart from anything else this is the year that marks an anniversary of when the Queen ascended to the throne and the coronation takes place in Westminster Abbey which is a religious building.”

WHAT'S your view on the future of opening prayers at town council meetings? Are they outdated and no longer represent society or do you feel they still belong in a Christian country? Write to Postbag, Chard and Ilminster News, 3a Fore Street, Chard, TA20 1PH, e-mail or comment on this story below.