Monday, 21 December 2009


They have fought bravely in Iraq and Afghanistan and count Victoria Cross hero Johnson Beharry among their number.

But the troops of the most decorated regiment in the British Army are the victim of an extraordinary snub by a council in Surrey, which says they are not 'appropriate' recipients of a public honour.

More than 2,000 people in Epsom have signed a petition to hand the freedom of the borough to the soldiers of the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment, which has won 57 Victoria Crosses in its 350-year history.

But a furious row has erupted after Liberal Democrats and independent councillors united to block the move - which would not cost taxpayers a penny - because the regiment, based in nearby Guildford, is 'not local enough'.

The regiment said it would be a 'huge honour' to have the freedom of the borough and march through the streets of the town when they come home from fighting the Taliban. More than 30 other councils have bestowed the same honour on the regiment, including Tunbridge Wells in Kent, 50 miles away.

Guest of honour at a homecoming parade in Tunbridge Wells was Lance Corporal Johnson Beharry, who won the Victoria Cross in 2004 for saving 30 colleagues by guiding them through an ambush in Iraq.

The Epsom and Ewell council committee that voted to snub the soldiers last conferred the freedom of the borough on their own retiring chief executive, while other previous recipients include a man who ran Epsom buses, the wife of a leading trade unionist, and two local businessmen. Critics said the objection was rooted in political prejudice, because the move was proposed by a Tory councillor, and bureaucracy.

On Tuesday night the council agreed to hold a special meeting to make a final ruling in the coming weeks but it will not be open to the public, and councillors are overwhelmingly opposed to the idea. Jean Steer of the Residents Association council group conceded that the regiment regularly signs up recruits from Epsom but said that granting them the freedom of the borough would be 'inappropriate'.

'It would be a nice thing to do but it's a high honour,' she said. 'I would love to see them marching through the borough but I don't think they should be given the honour. It has to be appropriate.' Sean Sullivan, the Tory councillor who is pressing to honour the troops, said: 'The Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment contains what used to be the East Surrey regiment. This is a local regiment.

'It would be wrong and downright offensive to refuse to honour this regiment.' Three soldiers in the PWRR were killed during the Iraq War, including Private Lee O'Callaghan, 20, of London, who was killed in Basra during an attack by insurgents in 2004.

Last night his mother Shirley said: 'To refuse them this honour seems so petty and shows a lack of gratitude for what they are doing.' The PWRR, also known as 'The Tigers', has a long and illustrious history in Britain's Armed forces. It has been involved in virtually every theatre of war since The Battle of Tangier in 1662.

For recent service in Iraq soldiers have also been awarded three Conspicuous Gallantry Cross medals, two Distinguished Service Orders and 16 Military Crosses. What an utter disgrace when these young lads are dying to be snubbed by liberal left wing pen pushing dick heads.

The same council who felt that their own retiring chief executive, and a man who ran Epsom buses and the wife of a leading trade unionist, and two local businessmen were worthy of such an honour. But that’s the lib-dem party for you.

The National Front would firstly bring OUR troops home and they would be granted the Freedom of every town and city in OUR land we owe them at least that. OUR troop’s job is to fight the enemy then when they come home they have to fight local government.

Well lads if you are reading this we as Nationalists are proud of you we say well done and THANK YOU. If you would like to tell this council what you think of them then here is how you can.


Tel: 01372 732000

Write to:
Epsom & Ewell Borough Council
Town Hall
The Parade
KT18 5BY

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