12:31pm Tuesday 26th February 2013
A LAST-DITCH bid to prevent Dudley funnyman Lenny Henry being awarded the Freedom of the Borough was defeated at last night’s meeting.
A Conservative-led amendment to the proposal presented to full council that would have prevented the honour going to Lenny was voted down 40-24.
The amendment put forward by new Dudley Tory leader, councillor Patrick Harley, called for the honour to be made to individuals from Dudley who have benefitted or made an eminent contribution to the borough rather than those who have enjoyed success elsewhere after leaving the area behind.
Council leader, councillor David Sparks, blasted the amendment as “ridiculous” and said: “This excludes the national and international so someone could be educated in a Dudley school, go to another country and get a Nobel Prize or even sort out the Arab/Israeli conflict but they wouldn’t get Freedom of the Borough.”
After the meeting, Labour councillor Richard Body said: “Most people from outside the Midlands aren't sure where Dudley is, let alone been there. Ask them where Lenny Henry comes from and they will all say Dudlaaaaay in a strange Black country accent.
“24 Tories voted for the amendment.
“I won’t speculate on the reasons why they didn't believe Lenny was worthy of Freeman, I for one am very proud of what Lenny has achieved from such humble beginnings, someone inspiring youngsters from Dudley borough.
“He’s also the first black person to receive Freeman of Dudley.”
The idea to award Lenny the honorary title was first proposed last autumn, but at October’s full council meeting the plan was put on ice while a committee was set up to make some rules on who should qualify for the accolade.
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