KIRKLEES Council chiefs cancelled an on-line St George's Day discussion for being too `offensive'.
Communications bosses slapped a gag on an internal council chatroom after five complaints over the "tone and content" of contributions.
The chatroom, which council staff have access to from work computers during breaks, became heated after a community cohesion worker asked about the relevance and importance of St George's Day.
One reply from a worker whose father immigrated to England in the 1950s and said he wanted to throw his passport in the skip, led to a flurry of responses both for and against with one poster even writing: "I am Asian but I love England it's my home and it will always be my first choice no matter what."
Mirfield councillor Martyn Bolt has questioned the decision to gag people who wanted to talk about St George's Day and the English national identity.
In a written response to a question from Clr Bolt about why the discussion was halted, the council's corporate internal communications manager Jim Cowell said he received three phone calls and two e-mails on Friday, drawing his attention to the tone of the messages.
He added: "As moderator, I intervened to remind people of the message board rules,but by the end of the afternoon I felt that the discussion had strayed too far from the original topic, and was becoming offensive and abusive. I asked the administrator to remove the topic, and closed with the message pasted below:
"Sorry folks, this exchange has run far enough!
"I've received a number of complaints throughout the day, both from users and readers, about the tone and content of some messages.
"We are a diverse workforce, from a huge variety of backgrounds.
"The only thing that brings us together is working for Kirklees Council. So it's easy to forget that comments which would seem OK in some work circles are interpreted quite differently elsewhere. It just shows that community cohesion - where this one all started - is a very difficult and delicate balancing act."
Mr Cowell said he later received an e-mail from the community cohesion outreach worker who posted the original message, thanking him for the careful mediation of the process and agreeing with his decision.
Clr Bolt said: "I couldn't believe what I was seeing.
"It appears there is someone sitting in an office whose job it is to be a censor.
"The council seem to have a policy of censorship. If anything gets slightly contentious then its "Oops we had better stop it".
"How are you supposed to have an open and frank exchange of views and move forward if you can't let off a bit of steam?"
Clr Bolt also questioned the use of the message board, which on Monday had a posting of a George Foreman health grill for sale.
He added: "Do we need to provide facilities for people to tap out little messages during work time.
"Given the rates of pay at Kirklees do we want staff to be selling second-hand George Foreman grills or sorting out nuts and bolts issues which really matter?"