Air cadets want freedom

AN AIR cadet squadron has got Nailsea Town Council in a tailspin after asking for freedom of the town.

Nailsea Air Cadets, which the Times reported last week has been chosen as the best in Bristol and Gloucestershire, wants to celebrate its 50th anniversary next year by not only winning the South West regional finals but also gaining the freeman status.

But the town council, which discussed the matter at a recent meeting, said awarding the organisation freedom of the town was ‘a step too far’.

In a letter to the council the mother of a member of cadet staff said: “I think that as a token of thanks to the squadron they should be offered the Freedom of the Town of Nailsea in recognition for all their hard work and dedication to the youth and people of Nailsea.”

Town clerk Ian Morrell was unsure whether the council had the power to grant the request saying historically the only places which could offer freeman status were cities and royal towns.

Other members were worried the honour means the cadets would be entitled to free parking and to walk through the streets of Nailsea with guns.

Cllr Anita Heappey said: “Any military freeman can bear arms in the town.

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“I’m not happy with that.

“The air cadets do a fantastic job but if we do it for one organisation what about others?

“The guides and scouts have been around even longer.

“I’m quite happy to see them march in the carnival parade but it’s a step too far giving them freedom.”

Cllr Clare Hunt said: “Freedom should be reserved for people who have served their country, not people who have a hobby.

“Anyway we are all freeman as our parking is free.”

Councillors agreed they should acknowledge the group’s birthday and it winning the best squadron honour by way of a congratulatory letter and nominating it for a community award next year.

A spokesman for the cadets said: “There are a number of air cadet squadrons who have freedom of their town if they have been there for quite a while.

“It is considered a privilege to march through the streets, but we don’t carry rifles and bayonets as is customary as air cadets aren’t allowed to parade with rifles at all.

“There is no financial implication to the town it would be just a scroll given out.”