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Friday, 23 October 2020

Former MP Vernon Coaker named honorary freeman of Gedling

There have been five Prime Ministers since he first became an MP.

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Gedling’s former Labour MP Vernon Coaker will receive the highest honour the council can bestow.

He served as the Member of Parliament from 1997 until 2019, when he was beaten at the most recent election by Conservative Tom Randall.

He also stood in two elections in Gedling before he was elected, meaning he has stood every time since 1987 – a total of nine elections.

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There have been five Prime Ministers since he first became an MP.

In a rare moment of political consensus, councillors from all parties voted unanimously to give Mr Coaker the honour last night (Wednesday, January 29) at a special meeting of the borough council.

A formal ceremony will now take place in the coming weeks.

Proposing the motion, the deputy leader of the council, Michael Payne, who represents Redhill for Labour, said: “I have come to realise and learn in my 10 years as a councillor and in politics that you don’t have to agree with somebody politically in order to respect and admire them.

“And what Vernon Coaker has, that very few people unfortunately in politics today have, is bucketloads of class, shedloads of grace and integrity that runs through his veins and his blood.”

The leader of the Conservatives, Chris Barnfather, said: “Westminster has an honours system which is contentious, mischievous, occasionally malicious, and where party politics dominate.

“We’re different here. We have an honours system, and our honours system in my eyes is as worthy as Westminster’s.

“But ours is based on different values. Our honours system is based on whole chamber support, based on consensus.

“We do not nominate people because of an individual act or ambition, perceived or otherwise, but as a result of a long period, sometimes a lifetime, of dedicated service to the residents and the community of Gedling borough.

“We put party politics to one side and we recognise what the individual has done, in whatever capacity, to make the life of Gedling residents better.

“In 22 years as a Member of Parliament for Gedling borough, not an anonymous MP but an MP who has been active in the borough, supportive of residents, who has always been courteous to all members of this chamber, of all political persuasions and none.

“What Vernon brought to the role is to be admired. I admire him, I respect him, and I’m more than happy to second his recommendation.”

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