A PROPOSED "skills audit" of Ledbury Town councillors has been called "The Spanish Inquisition" by one disgruntled councillor.

He says he will not participate, because he believes the process, in the future, could possibly disadvantage and put off would-be councillors from 'ordinary' backgrounds .

Cllr Tony Bradford said the recommendation, from the town's Democratic Participation Working Party, is "a brass nerve", and he added: "I am not answering any questions. It's outrageous, - a type of inquisition , and I won't be subject to the Spanish Inquisition.

"They want a background check on town councillors, old and new; but if we want to encourage the public to come forward as candidates for the next election, how will this encourage people from ordinary backgrounds?

Cllr Bradford added: "We are going back to class distinctions."

The recommendation is minuted from the last meeting of the town's Democratic Participation Working Party, of January 21, under the heading, "Skills Audit Required of Councillors".

It relates to existing, not future councillors; although the information gathered would be used to train new councillors.

The minutes state: "In advance of the May election it was recommended that an analysis is undertaken of the required or desirable skills, competences and experience needed for Ledbury Town Council to function effectively in future."

The information gathered would then "form a sound framework for delivering induction, training and support" for any or all new councillors, after May 2015.

The details are still to be approved, and Cllr Richard Hadley, a member of the Democratic Working Party, said he would recommend that all the online responses by existing councillors should be anonymous.

He said that participation in the online survey would be, in any case, "entirely optional", and participants would be able to choose which questions to answer and which questions to leave blank.

He said the idea was not to examine academic and working backgrounds, but to create a pool of useful information that would assist others, in the future, in their duties as town councillors.

"This is about capturing people's practical knowledge," he said.

He added: "I do wish people would not steam off and jump to conclusions."