THE leader of the council has moved to defuse a row which started when a councillor criticised the failure of some members to attend prayers.
Councillor Douglas Mills (Con) sparked controversy at last night's council meeting by accusing three Labour representatives of ignoring their duties to constituents.
Councillor Ray Puddifoot, the leader of Hillingdon Council, believes the comments made by Mr Mills were not inappropriate and feels attempts to report him to the standards board will fail.
He said: "Doug was asked a question about improving community cohesion and made reference to the inter-faith work of the churches in Hillingdon.
"He added councillors should set an example by respecting all faiths and that it was not good when three of the Labour group abstained deliberately from prayers before the meeting.
"He named them as Councillors Lindsay Bliss, Lynne Allen and Sid Garg."
These comments led to outrage from the Labour bench, with leader Anthony Way saying afterwards: "It was a personal attack by Mr Mills on three Labour members.
"He said that because Sid Garg is a prospective candidate for Uxbridge and South Ruislip in the next election he should observe Christian traditions even though he is of a different faith.
"It is a breach of the code of conduct and I understand the three councillors will be reporting Doug Mills to the standards board; either individually or with a group grievance.
"I am still seething about this, it is none of his damn business if people choose not to attend prayers - the man is a disgrace."
However, Mr Puddifoot said this morning: "Doug was entirely at liberty to say that as representatives of the people we should show respect to all faiths. Any attempt to report him will surely fail.
"We are not suggesting they sign up to them, merely that they are seen to be there while someone takes prayers.
"We are planning to have a Rabbi and a Mullah in future and my party will certainly be happy to stand and listen, even if we don't follow the same faith, as we see it as our duty.
"If we demonstrate tolerance and understanding then that will help set an example to the community. Labour members are entitled to put their personal beliefs above their public duty, but they shouldn't get upset when someone points out how that can be construed."