Church leaders pray for council cuts 'victims'

Tom Riordan Leeds council chief executive Tom Riordan said the local authority had made some very tough decisions

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Church leaders in West Yorkshire have written a prayer for "the victims of public spending cuts" in the county.

A copy of the "Prayer of Penitence" was handed to Leeds City Council chief executive Tom Riordan on Wednesday.

The prayer is for "people who will lose vital services, who will lose their jobs and those who have the difficult task of deciding which cuts to make".

Senior Church of England, Catholic and Methodist clergy urged churches in West Yorkshire to use it in their services.

Mr Riordan said: "It is our priority to make sure that the most vulnerable people in Leeds are protected."

Leeds City Council last month agreed a budget which will see savings of £115m over the next two financial years and 3,000 posts axed by 2015.

After receiving the prayer at the Civic Hall, Mr Riordan said: "The council has had to make some very tough decisions when setting its budget this year, as the money simply isn't available to sustain all of our current services.

Part of Prayer of Penitence

Attune our listening, we pray, to hear the cries of those deprived of work and of those bearing the burden of working long hours; to know the anger and the angst of people who feel pushed to the margins by those with wealth and power; to catch the whispers of our neighbours who feel they have been silenced, whilst others shout more loudly.

"Although some of our services will reduce, many others will be reorganised and delivered differently in future to ensure this.

"We will continue to work closely with voluntary, community and faith groups to make sure that vulnerable people are helped as much as possible through these challenging times."

Speaking on behalf of the West Yorkshire Ecumenical Council, the Reverend Dr Clive Barrett said: "The churches share a concern for the most vulnerable people in our society.

"Children and elderly people will lose essential services, including from faith and voluntary sector charities reliant on public grants.

"This Ash Wednesday prayer is for the people who will lose vital services, people who will lose their jobs, and those who have the difficult task of deciding which cuts to make.

"In prayer and practice, the church leaders are showing we must take responsibility for people in greatest need, for these are the people who are being hit the hardest."

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