Former Leader of the Council awarded Freedom of the Borough

Release Date: 07 July 2017

A former Leader of the Council received the highest honour the borough can award at a special Council meeting last night.

In recognition of Sir David Williams’ service to Richmond upon Thames, the Leader of the Council, Cllr Paul Hodgins, and the Leader of the Opposition, Cllr Gareth Roberts, presented Sir David with a Freedom of the Borough accolade.

Sir David represented Ham and Petersham ward on the Council from 1974 to 2014, and was Leader of the Council from 1983 to 2001, and a Cabinet member for another five years.

He has recently announced his retirement from local politics. However, as a councillor for 40 years, serving as Leader for 18 years, he is the only person ever to hold the post for such a long period of time.  

Sir David was the first Liberal Democrat group Leader and vice chair at the Local Government Association (LGA) in 1997-2001. He was also a Commissioner at the Audit Commission.  He received a knighthood in 1999 for services to Local Government and the LGA.

Cllr Paul Hodgins, Leader of Richmond Council, said:

“Awarding Sir David the highest honour that the borough can give is in recognition of his contribution to public life over more than 40 years. It celebrates his huge commitment to our community. Many of his achievements are still having a huge impact, including the redevelopment of Richmond Riverside.

“We also should honour his role as ward councillor. Throughout his time as councillor he championed the rights and views of Ham residents, helping them to build stronger communities where all can take part and all can take pride.

“That is an extraordinary achievement and one that merits the very highest honour this borough can bestow. I am delighted that we are able to bestow the status of Freeman upon him as a mark of our appreciation for his work.”

Cllr Gareth Roberts, Leader of the Opposition, said:

"The immense contribution made by David to our life here in Richmond cannot be under-estimated. We read on a regular basis that Richmond is the best place to live in London and this is largely attributable to David's legacy from his tenure as Leader of The Council.

“The protections and investment in the public realm put in place under his leadership have helped shape the borough into what is widely acknowledged to be an outstanding place to live. David has set the gold standard to which all subsequent leaders of the council should aspire and it is fitting that his achievements are duly recognised by the council."

Sir David Williams added:

“Representing my local community for 40 years has been an enormous privilege, and more than half of that time I was able to lead the borough as either the council leader or a cabinet member. However, I wouldn’t have had the success I did without the support of both my fellow councillors and the council officers. Like sport and music, politics is a team game, and what we all achieved together has made Richmond upon Thames a better place. I also hope my contributions to Ham and Petersham will be remembered in the years to come.”

Notes for editors

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Reference: P320/17

Updated: 31 July 2017