Wednesday 28 February 2024
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Former Labour MP Lord Vernon Coaker given the freedom of Gedling

Former Gedling MP and now member of the House of Lords Vernon Coaker has been named an honorary freeman of Gedling for his services to the borough for almost half a century.

Lord Coaker served as Gedling’s Labour MP for 22 years between 1997 and 2019 before losing the seat to current Conservative MP Tom Randall.

He went on to be placed into the House of Lords as a Labour peer and now goes by the title Lord Coaker of Gedling.

Now he has been awarded the highest honour available to a citizen in Gedling by receiving the title of honorary freeman of the borough – a title not handed out for more than a decade.

He joins only a handful of people awarded the honour, including the last recipients of the award which were The Mercian Regiment and boxer Carl Froch.

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Lord Coaker was elected as Gedling’s MP six times during his 22-year term in office and had several high-profile Westminster posts.

This included being the Minister for Policing, Crime and Security, Minister for Schools and Learners, and Shadow Secretary of State for Defence and for Northern Ireland.

He has also held roles on an international stage, including supporting UNICEF and more recently by raising the profile of modern slavery as a member of the Council of Europe.

His period as MP included the rebuilding of numerous schools in the borough and involvement in the new £49 million Gedling Access Road, the creation of Gedling Country Park and the Netherfield Lagoons.

He also supported the creation of flood defences, infrastructure and regeneration projects in the borough.

He was awarded the honour during an extraordinary council meeting on Thursday (June 16).

Speaking after he received the award, Lord Coaker said: “It is a huge honour to be receiving this title and it has been an even bigger honour to represent the people of Gedling at a national and local level for 22 years.

“The people of Gedling have always been my priority and I am proud to have stood up for local people especially when they needed it most.

“Gedling has so much to be proud of, including the way the communities work together and stand together, the many organisations that work tirelessly to help others and to better where they live.

“People in Gedling have a great pride in where they are from and where they live.”

The award was proposed by Councillor Michael Payne (Lab), deputy leader of the council and Labour’s parliamentary candidate for the 2024 General Election.

Speaking in the meeting Cllr Payne said: “It is without doubt that Vernon is deserving of this distinction and accolade.

“His lifetime has been spent dedicated to serving the people of Gedling in his work as a teacher and for 22 distinguished years as our local member of parliament.

“He promised his constituents he would represent them to the best of his ability and that’s precisely what he has been doing for the best part of a quarter of a century.

“The measure of any public servant is how true they remain to their values, their beliefs and promises, and the legacy they leave to future generations.

“On this count, Vernon has rightly earned the respect of his peers and fellow citizens locally, regionally, nationally and internationally.

“Wherever you go and whoever you speak to, from all political parties and non, he is held in the highest regard – and deservedly so.”

The ceremony included councillors from all political parties, including Labour MP for Nottingham North Alex Norris and Gedling’s current Conservative MP Tom Randall.

It followed a motion passed in January 2020 and supported by the Conservative Group for Lord Coaker to be given the honour.

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