TWO town councillors voted against plans to give Aspire Ryde funding — because they said the council should not be funding a Christian organisation.

Aspire Ryde was awarded annual funding of £15,000 for the next three years by the town council, however, Cllrs Jim Moody and Tim Wakeley voted against the decision.

Cllr Wakeley said: “I do not believe the aims and values of Aspire coincide with those of the council. We do not support any belief system.”

He said supporting religious organisations would set a precedent.

Speaking in support of Aspire, Cllr Wayne Whittle said: “My ward has the highest level of deprivation on the Island. Whether they are Christians or not I do not care.”

Cllr Michael Lilley added: “A lot of organisations that support people have come from religious organisations — look at the food banks.

“These organisations are often the last ones left when everyone has left.”

Cllr Nancy Farrell said she had volunteered at Aspire for a year. She said: “They don’t push religion at you. They try to be as secular as possible.”

Speaking after the meeting, director of Aspire, Heath Monoghan, described the decision as bittersweet.

He said: “I am so disappointed it was not passed unanimously.

“There seems to have been a campaign against Aspire Ryde, and we have tried to build bridges over the last five years.

“Our paper very clearly asked for some secular based funding.

“I am pleased because it should be supported. Looking at our social impact study, we have had £1.5 million of positive impact on Ryde, but none of that has been mentioned.”