Agenda item

Report on the convention of appointing Honorary Aldermen and Honorary Alderwomen


At the meeting on 2 December 2021, the Committee had requested a report on the convention of appointing Honorary Aldermen and Honorary Alderwomen addressing the following:

·         How Honorary Aldermen and Honorary Alderwomen have been selected in the past, what criteria were used and on whose recommendation,

·         What does eminent or meritorious conduct include,

·         A breakdown by party and qualification of those who have received the honour in the past twelve years,

·         Options for the future, including processes for granting and removal of the honour,

·         Referenced examples of protocols from other areas.


The Chief Executive Officer presented the report and highlighted the following points:

·         The current procedure is relatively informal.

·         The need to define ‘eminent services’, including on a local level.

·         The report had gone back to 2003, covering a period longer than twelve years and showed the appointments by political groups.

·         The report included a number of questions and considerations for the Committee to debate and provided examples of protocols from other areas.


Discussion on the report included the following:

·         There was the suggestion that the current system had been abused and there is a need to review the methods by which the appointments are made, including the introduction of a formal appointments panel.

·         The title of Honorary Alderman does not confer any rights or privileges not enjoyed by members of the public.

·         In recent years a lot of work had been done to modernise the Council and a decision to remove the award of the title would reflect a more modern approach.

·         A definition of ‘eminent’ includes the fact that a person is famous and respected within a particular sphere.  With regard to considering former Councillors for the award of the title, ‘eminent’ could include gaining respect and the way in which they have served their communities.

·         People who are deserving, including those who have provided long service and a significant contribution, are recognised in all walks of life.

·         There needs to be a tighter procedure and a clear definition of reasons for nominations.

·         Should long service be a criteria for awarding the title, it should also take account of the fact that a significant contribution could be made during a Councillor’s first term and there may be good reason why the former Member had not stood for re-election.

·         Quality of service, rather than only length of service should be considered.

·         Councillors’ families may also make sacrifices to enable a Member to serve and it is good for families to know that this work has been acknowledged.

·         The terms ‘Honorary Alderman’ and ‘Honorary Alderwoman’ may seem archaic and a more modern term such as ‘Honoured Citizen’ could be considered.

·         Receiving the title was considered to be a great honour.

·         Should the Council be minded to continue to confer the title, a small cross party working group could be set up to consider the details of the nomination process and report back to Council.

·         Any Member should be able to submit a nomination for the title, setting out specific reasons for the nomination to include eminent service rendered.

·         A requirement for five Councillors to sign a nomination could be considered as part of the process.

·         A written record of nominations and appointments should be kept in order to provide a transparent audit trail.

·         Any new protocol for conferring the title should be in place by the next elections in 2023.

·         Whether to continue to invite Honorary Aldermen and Alderwomen to civic events and Council meetings and whether apologies need to be given for Council meetings.

·         There was discussion regarding whether to continue awarding car parking permits moving forwards.

·         Should the Council proceed with a new protocol, it should include a formalised process for removing Honorary Aldermen and Alderwomen should the need arise.




a.    That the appointment of Honorary Aldermen and Honorary Alderwomen should continue,

b.    That a small cross party working group be constituted to include the Chair of the Council, the Leader, Group Leaders and Members to bring the number to approximately 9, as determined by the Monitoring Officer, to give political balance and to report back to Council with recommendations on the process for nominations and appointments going forward,

c.     That the working group adopts the criteria that nominees should have served for a minimum of 8 years, with the ability to recognise exceptional circumstances and that there is a form completed by fellow Councillors which sets out the eminent service which has been undertaken,

d.    That the working group proposes the exact criteria for ‘eminent service’ but that the Scrutiny Committee recommends reference to the form used by Wokingham Borough Council [Appendix 8 of the report] which it considers to be a good example,

e.    That Honorary Aldermen and Honorary Alderwomen should continue to be invited to civic events, but not invited as a matter of course to Council meetings.  Should they attend Council meetings, they will continue to be welcomed, but apologies will not be recorded if they do not attend,

f.      That the issuing of car parking permits to newly appointed Honorary Aldermen and Honorary Alderwomen should be discontinued, but that the privilege should be allowed to continue for those who have been appointed to the position in the past, and

g.    Should the Council wish to adopt a new protocol, it should include the formalised process for removing Honorary Aldermen and Honorary Alderwomen.

Supporting documents: