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Freedom of town rules issued after Slade's Noddy Holder honour row

Walsall | News | Published:

Councillors will need to give their blessing before the freedom of Walsall can be awarded from now on - after the cash-strapped authority was criticised for splashing out £13,000 on giving Slade frontman Noddy Holder the honour.

Formal guidelines for awarding the freedom of the borough have now been agreed by council chiefs after concerns were raised.

A policy has been drawn up and approved by full council which will see group leaders meet and give unanimous support.

A special meeting will then be held where two-thirds of the Walsall Council members present need to agree.

It comes after the cash-strapped council came under fire for spending £13,000 on granting Slade frontman Noddy Holder the honour this summer.

An initial protocol went before the Full Council earlier this autumn but a decision was deferred to allow for the guidelines to be redrawn. This followed concerns that freedom of the borough could not be given to someone no longer living in the borough.

The final draft has now been approved with the honour for those who have made an 'exceptional contribution.'

It states: "People from all walks of life and all sections of society who have made a difference to the community are eligible to be nominated as honorary freemen.

"People nominated would normally be expected to live within the borough. However, in keeping with the special nature of honorary freemen, the award should be strictly limited to those who have made a most exceptional contribution to the community of Walsall and who have demonstrated 'service above self."

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"Group leaders will meet on an ad hoc basis to give consideration to the nomination received. The details of the nominee will be available only to the leaders.

"Any recommendation to confer the honour should be a unanimous decision. The names of anyone not selected will not be recorded, but the person making the nomination will not be recorded, but the person making the nomination will be notified."

It adds that the chief executive will contact any person that is recommended to see if they would accept. If agreed by a majority of the council, the reasons for the decision are revealed.

Recipients receive a casket, scroll and invited to a civic reception.

The cash-strapped council defended the cost of granting the honour to Noddy, which covered the scrolls, signwriting, hospitality, flowers and recording the event to put on YouTube.

They said the glam rock legend, who was born in Caldmore, has promoted Walsall all over the world and offered his services to the entertainment industry for more than 40 years.

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