MP urges minister to explain rules on freedom of town issue

MP Oliver Heald has taken up the issue of Royston giving the Freedom of the Town to members of the Royal Anglian Regiment. He is asking Communities and Local Government Secretary Hazel Blears to explain the reason behind Royston Town Council being unable

MP Oliver Heald has taken up the issue of Royston giving the Freedom of the Town to members of the Royal Anglian Regiment.

He is asking Communities and Local Government Secretary Hazel Blears to explain the reason behind Royston Town Council being unable to hold a ceremony.

Mr Heald told the Government minister that town councillors were "extremely disappointed" to be told it could not honour the regiment, which recently returned from duty in Afghanistan.

He pointed out that the issue was raised at a time when the Government was encouraging communities to recognise the role of British troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.


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The town council was told that under the Local Government Act 1972 it was not entitled to give the Freedom of the Town.

"It seems that the Act only allows boroughs, cities or towns with royal status to grant this honour to military units who are closely associated with their community," said Mr Heald.

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"Members of the regiment have fought bravely for their country and we should be able to honour them by granting then the Freedom of the Town."

The idea of a parade and the granting of the Freedom of the Town was raised by Joe McDonald, the welfare officer of the Royston branch of the Royal British Legion.

He said that such a parade would "show we care and have our utmost respect for the job they are doing".

The Act covering the giving of the Freedom of the Town was described as "stupid" by Cllr Peter Burt.

The town council, however, has set up a working party to see whether a parade of recognition for the role played by the regiment could be organised.

Cllr Lindsay Davidson said: "We have to be pragmatic about the situation. There must be all sorts of ways we can get around this.

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