Faith groups have criticised the lack of a formal consultative process between religious leaders and Birmingham City Council.
Representatives from the Council of Black-led Churches and the Birmingham Council of Faiths said they regretted that official communication with the local authority tended to be a one-off response to publicity generated by events such last year's public disorder in Nechells.
The comments bring into question a pledge by the council's Tory-Liberal Demo-crat coalition that faith groups and the voluntary sector would play a greater role in the governance of the city. The emerging importance of faith groups, in particular, is highlighted in the Government's civil renewal agenda.
Plans by the council to establish a multi-faith forum are still being worked up, although those behind the idea admit they are finding it difficult to reach agreement about the size and composition of such a body.
The Rev James Herbert, chairman of the Council of Black-led Churches, told a scrutiny committee that there were no designated council officers responsible for liaising with faith groups on a regular basis. He added: "If the council wants to talk to us it tends to be linked to issues.
"There is no formal means of engaging with the local authority, which makes decision-making and community cohesion a difficult process. We have lost the means of communication."
The Rev Richard Tetlow, liaison officer for the Birmingham Council of Faiths, admitted: "We have no formal representation with the council. The basic issue is how the council fosters faith groups.
"Birmingham has a marvellous opportunity to work out how we work and live together happily. Faith isn't going to go away."
The huge number of churches in Birmingham and the city's diverse faith base would make any attempt at organising a standing consultative body a difficult task, the committee was told.
Just under 60 per cent of people in Birmingham are Christian, according to the last census. Muslims account for 14.3 per cent of the population, Sikhs 2.9 per cent, Hindus 2 per cent, Jews and Buddhists less than one per cent.
Guy Hordern, a member of the Birmingham Standing Advisory Committee on Religious Education, urged the council to pay more attention to the importance of faith groups. He said: "Some of the most successful regeneration projects in Birmingham are being brought forward by faith-based organisations."