Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Church News

Council prayers

Over recent years, various well-documented methods have been employed to curtail topical and controversial debate in the Chamber; the deliberate suppression of debate was recognised by the WLGA review. The decision whether something is, or is not on the agenda has been controlled by the chief executive Chair according to the matter raised. If it's not likely to cause corporate embarrassment then it doesn't matter whether it's on the agenda or not.

One item which has never been on the published agenda, but remains a feature of every full council meeting is the prayers at the start of the proceedings. In my view, there is no place for prayers at a civic council meeting. Church and state should be kept apart, and all that. Councillors, and officers, should be able to function without asking for divine guidance.

Prayers, to any god, should be taken by those who want to, prior to the meeting, in my view. Currently, any councillor who doesn't wish to join in, or is a member of a different faith, must either sit down, and be accused by fellow Members of disrespect, or stay outside the chamber until the moment has passed which gives the impression that the councillor is late.

The National Secular Society comments on a recent decision by a town council in England to stop praying at meetings; "local authority meetings are not an appropriate setting for religious worship". Neither should councillors, attending a council meeting on behalf of all residents, be paid for praying by council tax payers.

Asking Carmarthenshire Council to stop praying at meetings would be like asking them to take a pay cut, but maybe it's time they weighed up whether prayer forms part of their equalities policy or whether it is in fact the complete opposite and highly divisive.

Horses for courses

Back in March, after a jolly trip to the evangelical bowling alley, the Executive Board eagerly agreed to iron out a few creases for their partners, the Towy Community Church. The church, as readers will know, has already benefited from £1.4m in land deals, grants and loans from the council.

The issue in March, (also covered by the Herald) was that the church were already using parts of the Xcel Centre bowling alley which they were not supposed to, and were in breach of their legal agreement and planning permission.

Unlike those of us who will undoubtedly suffer eternal conscious punishment, or at least end up in the Magistrate's court for such misdemeanours, the Board happily agreed to 'amend' the agreement.  Cllr Jane Tremlett thought they should have a £20k boiler, Pam Palmer got even more righteous than usual and the chief executive offered to arrange further trips to the church for any interested members.

Well there's no news yet, as far as we know, on the boiler but what did the church want to use the extra space for? Ostensibly it was to provide office space for the furniture recycling facility although usefully the council also agreed for meeting rooms in this space to be hired out.

So who has been hiring it out? One organisation is Caleb 14:24, an evangelical group which runs a church consultancy and 'Christian leadership development' courses, with a similar fundamentalist faith as the Towy Church, (and, we sometimes wonder, County Hall). Each to his own of course, and the courses are run in evangelical churches around Wales; apart from in Carmarthen, where they're run from the bowling alley...

Incidentally, the Caleb website calls for donations towards purchasing a £1m mansion in the Carmarthenshire countryside as a 'Kingdom Life Centre'. It is not known if it has been purchased, nor is it any concern of ours.

However, should the organisation succeed in their purchase, their three year financial forecast for the Centre includes £47,500 in 'Grants from Local Government'. What those grants could possibly be is a bit of a mystery...but there's only one local government round here and that's Carmarthenshire County Council.

As I said, politics and religion should be kept apart, particularly in Carmarthenshire.


Anonymous said...

I also think they should stop this silly nonsense of standing for the chair AND Chief Executive when they enter the chamber.
The CE is after all an employee of the council and he should himself be standing for the chair.

Mind you I think all of this chain of office stuff and standing to speak is crap anyway.

caebrwyn said...

Anon 8:10
I agree, I'm not sure any other council stands for its chief executive. Perhaps it's because we've got a really special one... ;)

Anonymous said...

Our CEO is special alright - not for the right reasons tho!!!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous @8;52
You never said a truer word.Let's see how Plaid will handle things now that they are the ruling party( with the Indies of course)The situation is dire in CCC and it takes a strong party to take charge of a situation clearly spiralling out of control.

Anonymous said...

We are a Christain

Country and If we want Prayers we can have preyers so whhy are you objecting - are you a Tailabnad / ISIs scull in the middle of North Carmarthenshirec