THE city’s Labour councillors should “hang their heads in shame” over a decision to snub an important mayoral service, the leader of the city council has said.

Councillor Marc Bayliss, leader of Worcester City Council, criticised all but one of the city’s Labour councillors for failing to attend the annual mayor’s civic service on Sunday (June 23) and said it was “pretty disgusting” they had boycotted such an important event.

The service, which took place at Worcester Cathedral, marked the official start of Cllr Allah Ditta’s year as mayor.

But Cllr Adrian Gregson, leader of the council's Labour group, said asserted there was no boycott by any of the Labour councillors.

He said: "All of the councillors make their own decision on whether they want to attend such events.

"Councillors all have their own commitments and councillors have busy lives. It is the choice of individual councillors whether they want to attend or not."

Cllr Gregson said it was wrong for Cllr Bayliss to call it a boycott.

He said: "There is no boycott of anything like that. Cllr Bayliss is just trying to make a non-story out of something as usual."

Cllr Bayliss praised former mayor Cllr Jabba Riaz for “having the guts” to stand up to the rest of his party and Labour colleagues and attend the event.

Cllr Bayliss also praised Green councillors for “putting aside party politics” and attending.

He said: “The role of mayor is a non-political post. Labour councillors should not be choosing to not attend the service just because they don’t like the mayor.”

“It doesn’t matter who the mayor is or what party they come from. It is about celebrating an important role. The person has already been elected anyway. It is about celebrating the office of mayor.”

Labour councillors voted against Cllr Ditta’s nomination for mayor when the council met to choose this year’s mayor in May.

Cllr Ditta, who serves as mayor for a second time having become the first Muslim to hold the position in 2004, said he was "dismally disappointed" that Labour councillors had not joined him in celebrating the start of his mayoral year.

He said: "It is an annual event that is booked in advance. I would have expected the leadership to turn up at least."