Trina hands back Sidmouth freeman title

Trina Jarrett being named honorary Freeman of Sidmouth in 2012.

Trina Jarrett being named honorary Freeman of Sidmouth in 2012. - Credit: Archant

The second-ever person to be granted the freedom of Sidmouth has this week rescinded the honour – saying she does not want the award until a row over who should receive it is resolved.

Trina Kemp, née Jarrett, was hailed as the ‘rock of Sidmouth Town Council’ in May 2012 when she received the accolade for her 25 years of service to the town.

But in a letter to the authority, the former town clerk said it was ‘with regret’ she could no longer consider herself an honorary freeman.

This comes after former councillor Ann Liverton, a card-carrying Conservative, was denied the title because some members feared it could be seen as a political act.

The snub led to the resignation of her spouse, Graham Liverton, who said it was ‘impossible’ for him to work with ‘people who have such a low opinion of his wife’.

In her letter, Mrs Kemp said she was ‘extremely proud’ to have received the ceremonial award – the only other recipients of which are former town council chairman Tony Reed and Olympic equestrian Mary King.

But she said the decision not to grant Mrs Liverton the honour because of her Tory links was ‘ludicrous in the extreme’, and ‘undermined the value of those who have received the award in the past’.

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Her letter said: “It is a sad situation that such a decision was made primarily because of new and inexperienced council members, some attending only their third meeting, who may well not have understood the implications.

“At no time has this award been given with anything but good grace and certainly not with any political bias.

“If this award is being denied to someone merely because they are the member of a political party, then I consider the award lacks its intention to embrace many of those worthy of recognition for their services to Sidmouth.

“I look forward to hearing how the council intends to progress this matter and, until such time, it is with regret that I can no longer consider myself an honorary freeman of Sidmouth.”

Town clerk Chris Holland said future appointments and freeman awards would be up for discussion by the council at a future meeting.

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