Section 249 of the Local Government Act 1972 makes provision for the creation of Aldermen or Freemen of cities.
Whilst I have no problem with the practice of creating such offices, or bestowing those honours on deserving people, there should be a means of removal as there is with all other honours.
However, nowhere within the Local Government Act or any subsequent legislation is there a provision for the removal of this honour from a person to whom it has been awarded and who through their conduct can no longer be considered a fit and proper person to enjoy the distinction of Alderman or Freeman.
It would be a simple matter to amend the Act in order to detail a process for removal.
This matter came to my attention in respect of a person who holds the 'Freedom of the City of Liverpool'. I questioned the council as to how a person can complain about a 'Freeman' and was told that there is no complaints process and no means by which a 'Freeman' can be 'stripped' of the honour – regardless of what they have done or to whom they have done it.
It seems both morally and ethically wrong that a person can be allowed to retain an honour when they persistantly act in a way which demonstrates they are completely unworthy of it.
Why does this idea matter?
It is important to have a means of 'stripping' a person of an honour if their conduct has been such that they cease to be a fit and proper person to hold any honour which may have been bestowed upon them.
There is a means of removal for even the most senior Crown honours and removals have twice ocurred within the Order of the Garter and twice in recent times from the Order of the Bath.
Allowing a person who has disgraced him or herself by their own conduct to continue to remain an Alderman of to enjoy the 'Freedom of the City' brings the office and distinction into disrepute.