Awarding local NHS the ‘Freedom of the Borough’ to be explored by Northampton councillors
A motion will be brought before the full council when it holds it latest ‘virtual’ meeting online on Monday (June 15). It proposes that the local National Health Service be recognised and appreciated for the ‘outstanding services rendered to the residents of the town during the COVID19 Emergency’.
The motion looks likely to get cross party support, as it has been proposed by the Conservative leader of the council, Councillor Jonathan Nunn, and also seconded by the Labour leader Councillor Danielle Stone.
As well as individuals such as Diana, Princess of Wales, the freedom of the borough can also be bestowed on organisations and institutions. Both the fire and rescue service and the police force have been awarded it, while in 2014 the army’s 9th/12th Royal Lancers Regiment was awarded the honour.
Councillors are expected to agree a cross-party working group to compile a report recommending how the honour should be granted, followed by a special meeting of the council where it will be voted on.
Councillor Jonathan Nunn told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “It’s fairly often given to organisations rather than specific people. We want to keep these traditions alive ahead of going to the unitary and make sure they remain.
“The idea of the NHS is a complicated one because with a fire service or a regiment you’re a finite body. That’s why with this one we’re suggesting a cross-party working group to examine how you do that. We feel it’s the right thing to do but it shouldn’t be specifically the hospital, as there’s doctors, ambulance drivers, carers and others. So we’re looking at a way we can encapsulate it and make it all inclusive.
“It’s the greatest honour the borough can give to someone. It’s a formal recognition and we want to value everyone working within the wider NHS.”
Labour leader Councillor Danielle Stone added: “I’m absolutely delighted. It’s the right thing to do. It’s recognition for the heroic role that people in the NHS have played during the crisis and it’s well deserved.”
The meeting will also see a motion proposed by the Liberal Democrats and its leader Councillor Sally Beardsworth. It states: “Over the last three months, council staff have worked hard with partners in the public, private and voluntary sectors to meet increased demand for services and in particular to give support to the vulnerable and families in most need.
“There will come a time when we will need to review what has gone well and what could have been done better but I believe now is the time for us, as elected representatives, to say thank you to everyone at NBC and to our contractors and partners for the job they do on behalf of our community.”