‘Significant’ service could be rewarded with new honour

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A COUNCIL is considering conferring a new civic honour on people who have rendered “significant” services to the city.

Hull Council already has powers to admit honorary Freemen – an honour only rarely given in the last 130 years.

The civic committee has been mulling over the possibility of introducing a new honorary title – that of Honorary Burgess – which would be awarded to people who have “delivered significant services in their field of endeavour” and also “enhanced the city’s reputation”.

New burgesses would be awarded a framed certificate at meetings of full council – and go on the roll of honour.

Former Lord Mayor Coun Colin Inglis said the council received the occasional request for someone to be a Freeman, but it was rarely awarded.

In 130 years, only around 50 people have been made Freemen – including Field Marshal Earl Haig, Lloyd George and Joseph Rank.

In the 1990s then Hull East MP John Prescott and Kevin McNamara, who stepped down as Hull North MP in 2005, were granted the honour, as was Hull rugby league legend Johnny Whiteley. Nelson Mandela is also an honorary Freeman.

Coun Inglis said the authority discussed requests to become Freemen behind closed doors as it was a “touchy” subject which required the “judgement of Solomon”.

He said: “I will probably come down in favour of creating something – if people are judged worthy of it they will get a certificate.

“Even if we agree this we wouldn’t be in favour of dashing out hundreds – there will maybe one or two a year. You still have to have a certain bar.

“We get two or three requests a year – somebody’s son or cousin always thinks they are the best thing since sliced bread.”

After 1833 burgesses signified people who were entitled to vote in local elections.

The civic committee will make a decision at a meeting on Friday.