CHURCH representatives on East Lothian Council’s education committee could be stripped of their voting rights after a survey found overwhelming support for the move.

More than 80 per cent of people who took part in the council’s consultation over the continued participation in education decisions by the religious representatives said that they should not be allowed a say.

And more than half also called for the trade union representative on the committee to have their vote taken away too.

READ MORECalls to end religious voting rights on East Lothian Council committee

Councils are required by law to have religious representatives on their education body but the consultation comes as several local authorities in Scotland have made these representatives non-voting members.

There are currently three religious representatives – representing the Church of Scotland, the Roman Catholic Church and the Scottish Episcopal Church – and one trade union representative, representing EIS, on East Lothian Council’s education committee.

In 2019, Perth and Kinross Council became the first local authority in Scotland to withdraw the voting rights of its religious representatives after the Scottish Government said that the status was a matter for councils to decide.

A number of other Scottish councils, including City of Edinburgh, Fife, Moray, Orkney Islands and Scottish Borders, have also approved the withdrawal of voting rights of non-elected religious and union representatives.

In a document published on its website, East Lothian Council says that 112 responses were made to a public consultation launched over October and November, with 84 per cent supporting the removal of votes from religious representatives and 56 per cent supporting it for the union representative.

Among responses recorded by officers were people questioning the relevance of the religious representation in modern day and whether it should be widened to include all faiths if continued.

However, others insisted that the input from the church was important and should be retained, with supporters of the Catholic Church representative pointing out that their involvement went back more than 100 years to when Catholic schools came into ‘state control’ and a partnership was agreed between Church and state.

One headteacher told the consultation: “In removing the rights of the church representative, it potentially severs this link and the commitment made in 1918.”

Councillors will make a decision at a meeting on Tuesday.