ONLINE POLL: Row over plan to give Sir Alan Meale freedom of Mansfield district

Alan Meale MP  Who has been awarded a knighthood
Alan Meale MP Who has been awarded a knighthood

PLANS to give MP Sir Alan Meale the freedom of the district have backfired, as squabbling councillors blamed each other for a series of failed proposals.

During a recent council meeting, Mansfield District Council discussed a motion put forward by the Labour members to give the MP the prestigious honour in recognition of his service, but it was voted down.

After it became apparent that Independent council members had voted against the idea, they then accused Labour members of retaliation by voting against Independent councillors’ motions later in the meeting.

It included proposals for a kerb-side glass collection in Mansfield and to reinstate an evening bus service for outlying areas of the district.

Both motions subsequently failed.

In a letter to Chad, Coun Martin Wright said: “After not getting their own way on the Sir Alan Meale vote they proceeded to vote against, as usual, any worthy proposal put forward by the Independent group.”

He said he voted against the Sir Alan proposal because he has been paid ‘handsomely for his 25 years service as an MP, some may say too handsomely’, and that people who work many more years for a lot less money would not even be considered.

The honour has only been awarded four times since 1973. Past recipients include Olympic gold medallist Rebecca Adlington and side-car world

champions Tom and Ben Birchall.

It recommends that the title should be given ‘only in exceptional cases.’

Despite 22 voting in favour of Sir Alan Meale, with just 12 against, a two-thirds majority was required for the motion to be carried.

Mayor of Mansfield, Tony Egginton, admitted he voted against it.

He said: “I have been privileged to award this to Rebecca Adlington and the Birchall brothers, and these are people who have gone above and beyond their duty.

“I presented it on behalf of the people of Mansfield, and I have to know that the majority of the people support this.

“Between 75 and 80 per cent of the electorate did not vote for Sir Alan Meale during the election, so that tells me that they would not have approved such a move.”

In response, the council’s Labour leader, Coun Martin Lee, said: “Sir Alan Meale has done over and above his

duty for many decades and its a sad reflection on the

Independents that they voted against it.”

In terms of the glass collection and bus service motions, Coun Lee added: “ We only voted against these proposals on their merits- glass collections have already been considered by the select commission so this

motion did not make any sense.”