Just to let you know about the Special Town Council Meeting last Monday evening. At the meeting the Town Mayor, Councillor Major Jim Sibbaldgave the freedom of Wantage to Her Majesty's Ship Queen Elizabeth and Ship's Company.
Although I was not allowed to ask my question in the meeting, I have received a written answer from the Mayor.
He said that he
"had taken Legal advice about the interpretation of the Section 249 of the Local Government Act 1972, long before I contemplated putting this motion to Council.
""The actual Section of the Act of Parliament is here and Paragraph 5 specifically states and was correctly included in the Council agenda, namely:
5)Subject as follows, a relevant authority may admit to be honorary freemen or honorary freewomen of the place or area for which it is the authority—
(a)persons of distinction, and
(b)persons who have, in the opinion of the authority, rendered eminent services to that place or area.
"My legal advice stated that this gives 3 ways that an Honorary Freedom can be awarded:
"The Legal advice stated that if both clauses had to be applied to grant freedom then the wording of the Act would be as per the 3rd statement only.
"I chose to propose that HMS Queen Elizabeth and Ship’s Company are persons of distinction and that alone suffices. I also added for gravitas in the motion “in recognition of their service to the Defence of the Realm”. The Town Council can give the Freedom just on being a person of distinction alone. I equate this to giving Nelson Mandela the freedom of Glasgow in 1981 even although never setting foot in my home city, he was awarded it for being a “person of distinction” whereas my father was given it for his eminent service."
So if you know any "persons of distinction" you can request that the Town Council give them the Freedom of the Town too.
Thanks for reading.
Wantage and Grove Campaign Group