Thousands of Nissan workers driving their cattle through the streets of Sunderland would be some sight to behold!
The Freedom of the City honour traditionally brings with it some unusual historical rights. In some cities it gave them the right to herd sheep over bridges and public land.
For military groups, they could exercise their freedom by marching through the streets “with drums beating, colours flying, and bayonets fixed.”
Nissan’s 7,000 strong workforce are unlikely to do either, no matter how appealing the image may be. These days the honour is purely symbolic.
But no sooner had Sunderland City Council tabled a motion to confer the honour on the Nissan workforce, than they were criticised. It was ever thus.
Yes, there are many others who are just as deserving and there may well be ‘better’ ways to spend council money. But the honour, particularly in this exceptional year for the city, just feels right.
On Nissan’s 30th anniversary, having just secured a new deal expected to boost the Sunderland economy by a mindboggling £30BILLION over the next decade, why shouldn’t we honour this world-renowned workforce?
The Freedom of the City honour is proposed to groups who have made outstanding contributions to the wellbeing and community spirit of the city.
There may well be others who tick that box, but the Nissan workers are just as deserving. How that honour is celebrated will be revealed in due course.
We’re no sure how many of the workers own cows and sheep, but we wouldn’t begrudge them grazing them on Mowbray Park for a day. A small price to pay for 30 great years in the city.