Coventry & Warwickshire

War veteran honour blocked by a Warwickshire council

A row has broken out in Warwickshire after council leaders blocked a bid to honour an 84-year-old Korean War veteran.

Jesse Owen was put forward to receive the freedom of the borough of Nuneaton and Bedworth for his work as a marshal at the area's Armistice Day parades.

Dennis Harvey, leader of the borough council, said it was not "appropriate" to celebrate individuals in this way.

Opposition councillors believe Mr Owen's dedication should be rewarded.

One of them, Clive Stringer, put the former Royal Marine Commando's name forward for the honour and has been backed by the leader of the Conservative group, Des O'Brien, who said he believed Mr Owen "epitomised" the borough.

Mr O'Brien said: "It's right that we should honour these people who give their time and dedication to make the quality of life of the rest of the borough that much better.

"When you give somebody an honour and recognise the effort he's put in, that cascades down to other people who do voluntary work, and there's a lot of them."

Regiments honoured

Mr Harvey, who represents the Labour group, said he acknowledged the efforts of Mr Owen.

He said the former soldier, who for the past 25 years has helped organise military parades in the area before stepping down due to ill health this year, was "very popular across the council".

Mr Harvey said: "He's done a sterling job as parade marshal at the Remembrance Day services but we did feel that we've never made freemen of the borough apart from army regiments based at Bramcote which is a very special case and is done as a group.

"We felt to have picked out an individual amongst the many individuals who have done sterling things in this borough just wasn't appropriate.

"The majority of the council voted against it."

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