LANCASHIRE County Council will stop supplying the supply of Halal meat from un-stunned animals to 27 schools in the New Year.

This afternoon's full meeting of the authority voted decisively in favour of the ban, proposed by its leader Cllr Geoff Driver, by 49 to 23 with nine abstentions.

It will affect 12,000 Muslim pupils in the 27 schools in Blackburn, Nelson, Burnley, Rawtenstall, Hyndburn and Preston.

Abdul Hamid Qureshi, chief executive of the Lancashire Council of Mosques, said: "This decision is hugely disappointing."

He said a boycott of school meals by Muslim pupils and a legal challenge remained options for the organisation which has a strict interpretation of halal beef and lamb.

Cllr Driver: “This is an animal welfare issue: nothing more nothing less."

Yesterday's decision does not require poultry to be pre-stunned before slaughter.

Cllr Driver added:"The county council will work with the Lancashire Council of Mosques to mitigate against any unwanted and unwarranted consequences of this decision"