Council to Consider Freedom of the Borough Honours
South Tyneside Council will be asked to consider two Freedom of the Borough honours at their meeting next week (8 September).
The Council will be asked to consider agreeing to the first steps that would be required to confer the highest honour the Council can bestow to Ray Spencer MBE and to all local NHS, carers, and Key Workers.
Mr. Ray Spencer MBE has played a major role in the civic and cultural life of South Tyneside residents over a number of decades.
He has spent over 20 years promoting South Tyneside's performing arts and culture sector and raising the profile of the Borough as a visitor destination as well as being a main player in multi-agency work across South Tyneside, his consideration has been endorsed by the Council's Constitution Committee.
In May 2020 South Tyneside Council's Cabinet endorsed that local NHS, carers and other key workers who contributed to keeping local people safe and ensuring essential services continued during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic should be awarded the Freedom of the Borough.
Given the challenges of the pandemic it was not felt safe to seek to bestow the honour at that time and so it was delayed to a later date. The Council will therefore consider the recommendation to proceed at its meeting next week.
Cllr Tracey Dixon, Leader of South Tyneside Council said: "Being granted the Freedom of the Borough is the highest honour to be bestowed on any individual or organisation.
"The rare honour has only been awarded to 10 people or organisations since 1981. If ultimately approved the recipients will join The Rt Hon Lord Don Dixon P.C.D.L, The Citizens of Wuppertal and 205 (3rd Durham Voluntary Artillery) Battery Royal Artillery (volunteers) and South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade in receiving this prestigious award."
If Borough Council in comfortable with the recommendation and agrees to proceed with the next steps to formally confer the Freedom of the Borough, it would need to resolve to hold Extraordinary Meetings of Borough Council. One at the end of October 2022 for Mr Ray Spencer MBE and a second in March 2023 for all local NHS, carers, and Key Workers.
The Council is also working to establish multiple permanent Covid memorials which will be at locations across the Borough and will serve as focal points for reflection on the difficulties of the pandemic.
Working with the Cultural Spring, a process of meaningful community engagement is planned over the coming months, allowing local people to be able to shape the content of the memorial inscriptions.
It is hoped the Freedom of the Borough and memorial unveiling would be coincided in March 2023.