UNHAPPY councillors have spoken out about alleged discriminatory attitudes held by some members of the Standing Advisory Council for Religious Education (SACRE) in Monmouthshire.

Several complaints have been made about the handling of the committee, which advises the council on religious teaching in the county’s schools.

But it has been claimed that the council has yet to respond “some months” after they were made.

The allegations were made by Labour councillor Tony Easson at a meeting of the council’s democratic services committee on Monday.

“I felt quite disturbed at several of the meetings. I felt that the disrespect to the chair could be seen to be discriminatory to other religions,” said Cllr Easson.

The SACRE is comprised of county councillors, teachers and representatives of various faith groups from within the county.

Last June members were asked to nominate a new chair, but the decision was deferred until October due to a “low turnout”.

But Cllr Easson said the minutes “do not fully reflect the context of the dissent shown on that date”, adding: “Some committee members said there should be more Christian faith representation, as opposed to Sikh faiths, Muslim faiths, Buddhists and Catholics.

“That left a fairly nasty taste in my mouth. I’m not agnostic, and I’m not a regular churchgoer, but I do believe that any members should have the right to follow their own religion without discrimination.”

Labour councillor Tudor Thomas, who sits on the SACRE as a co-opted member, said the committee’s “whole ethos and atmosphere had changed”.

“I was not present in October but there was grave unhappiness among a number of people from the faith community and teachers,” he said.

“Some that have written to this authority have yet to gain a response, which I feel quite disappointed by. I’ve never come across this situation in 40 years of experience.”

Lib Dem Councillor Jo Watkins said the SACRE has been an “incredible forum for democracy in the county” but that this was “now in the past”.

“It is now an argumentative committee as opposed to a productive committee,” added Cllr Watkins.

“Representatives from teaching and faith communities are deeply unhappy with the way the committee has changed.”

SACRE minutes reveal that deputy chief executive Kellie Beirne attended a meeting in February and “called for members’ co-operation to assist her in managing the meeting effectively”.

It was agreed at the meeting that only one person would speak at a time and, if two or more members speak at the same time, comments will be directed through the chair.

Speaking in Ms Beirne’s absence on Monday, head of policy and governance Matthew Gatehouse said: “It’s quite concerning to hear some of the comments that have been raised and [they] have to be taken seriously.”

Cllr Easson was also advised to speak to the council’s head of legal services Robert Tranter if he felt there had been a breach of the council’s code of conduct.

“I did,” said Cllr Easson. “I felt there was a possible breach by some members and asked if I should take it to the ombudsman.

“[Mr Tranter] took on my concerns and he said that I didn’t need to go, although I could still if I so wish.”