Earby man’s petition for veterans to be granted town ‘freedom’

Coun. James Spence, of Earby Town Council.
Coun. James Spence, of Earby Town Council.
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An Earby town councillor and war veteran has launched an epetition calling on all Second World War heroes to be granted freedom of their respective towns.

Coun James Spence created the online petition late last month with the call coming ahead of the 70th anniversary of the Normandy landings today.

In it, he asks the government’s Department for Communities and Local Government to act before it’s too late by setting aside money for all parish and town councils up and down the land to carry out the honour.

Mr Spence, who works at Rolls-Royce in Barnoldswick, served in the army’s 5th Regiment Royal Artillery division between 1990 and 1997.

Based at Catterick, he was active in the first Gulf War and in Cyprus as part of a United Nations mission.

Earby Town Council granted the Freedom of the Town to a total of 29 veterans in two waves in 2012 and 2013. Nine have died since.

Coun. Spence said: “Earby was the first town in the UK to honour all its World War Two veterans by giving them the freedom of their town. As we all know, our veterans are now in their 80s and 90s.

“A recent search on Google suggests between 50 and 70 veterans a week are dying across the country.

“People don’t realise what these people did or what they achieved and veterans are too proud to talk about it.

“I feel that in a few years it will be too late. We all have a connection with veterans, whether it be our grandparents or the elderly that walk down your street.

“Don’t forget what this generation have done for this country.”

If 100,000 signatures are received it could spark a Westminster debate on the subject.

You can find the petition online at epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/65301