Capstick – Freeman of the Borough
Veteran South Tyneside councillor to be honoured
Councillor Jimmy Capstick the leader of the small South Tyneside Progressive group of councillors is to be awarded the status of Freeman of the Borough, having served the local community for an astonishing 44 years.
Jimmy is “old school” Progressive having stuck firmly to the party’s strictly independent view about the need for local councillors to serve their town first and not to allow the politics of national parties to dominate our affairs within the town hall. It is a remarkable achievement to have gained the respect and support, not only of his constituents over that period, but also of his fellow councillors from all of the other parties represented on South Tyneside Council. Jimmy is a self effacing and quiet family man with a calm demeanour laced with an impish wit, he has opposed Labour over four decades and faced a number of Leaders in debate including Ernest Mackley, Vince Fitzpatrick, Albert Elliott, Paul Waggot and current Leader Iain Malcolm, he has been the mainstay of the South Tyneside Progressive Association since the death of former leader Harry Marshall. I first met Jimmy in the mid 1970s and he was one of the more experienced of my colleagues when I joined the Council in 1980, often providing me with insights on procedure, strategies and tactics and a guiding hand on the Council’s constitution and confusing Standing Orders at the time. He has been almost an ever present member of South Tyneside Council since its formation in 1973, with a break of one year in 1990 and he has represented Cleadon Park, West Park, and Harton wards during that time. Seriously, you could not wish to meet a more friendly and helpful local representative (despite him being an avid Newcastle supporter).
The Freedom of the Borough is not awarded lightly and only one other local councillor has received the award since 1973, unlike the City of Newcastle it does not bestow any special rights or privileges, in other words he will not be able to graze sheep or horses on Cleadon Hills or drive them along the John Reid Road! The nomination for this award has full cross party support in the council and a special motion will be put to the full council next Thursday 20th. October in South Shields town hall when it will be approved.
Current Labour Leader Cllr. Iain Malcolm has said:
“The Freeman accolade represents our thanks and appreciation to Jim Capstick for his outstanding and distinguished service to the people South Tyneside. I am confident that this nomination will be approved and a civic ceremony to bestow the honour will take place at a later date.”
Cllr. Capstick is currently not in the best of health, but I’m sure that this award will be well received and cheer him and his family enormously, he can look back at his life and achievements in the local community with a huge amount of pride.
The South Tyneside Progressives now have their own website – here