- Tower Hamlets
Malcolm Wicks, the MP for Croydon North who died at the end of last month, is to be made a freeman of the borough.
The honour is given to citizens for their service and commitment to their community. Wicks is the first person to be given the honour posthumously.
The decision was announced on Monday following a meeting of the full council who decided the award would honour his work. An EastLondonLines report on his death can be found here.
Tributes have been paid by both council leader Mike Fisher and opposition leader Tony Newman.
Councillor Fisher said the granting of the freedom was: “Fitting for man who gave so much to Croydon and was Croydon through and through.”
He added: “Malcolm was a great advocate for and champion of Croydon and all its people. He was champion of the underdog, who always thought of people who were less fortunate.”
The 65-year-old announced he was being treated for cancer last October but would continue to serve his constituents.
Tributes have been made throughout the community.
The London Mozart Players where Wicks was a board member said: “The London Mozart Players is sad to record the death of Malcolm Wicks MP, a staunch supporter of the orchestra and a campaigner for it.
“Malcolm will be enormously missed by his constituents, friends and colleagues and by this orchestra. We send our condolences to his wife and their children.”
Catherine Rees, a representative from the South East Cancer Help Centre, where Wicks had been vice-president since 1998 said he would be missed greatly by all those at the centre.
She said: “Malcolm Wicks supported the work of the centre for many years. We are very grateful for all the work he did for us and we will miss all the guidance and advice he gave us.
Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this very sad time. He was there to support us and we are grateful for that.”
In a statement issued on Wednesday, Wicks’s family said: “Malcolm would have been extremely honoured to have been recognised in this way by Croydon Council.”
Croydon Norbury Councillor, Maggie Mansell paid tribute to Wicks’ work for society. She said: “He was much loved throughout the many communities of Croydon. He set up a high standard of integrity and honesty.
“He understood the social pressures of poverty, isolation and unemployment. He steered the Carers Act onto the statute books whilst in opposition.”
Before becoming an MP, Mr Wicks was a lecturer, then a social policy analyst at the Home Office, and director of the Family Policy Studies Centre.
As an MP he held a variety of ministerial briefs under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown including pensions, science and energy.
In 2008 the married father and grandfather stepped down from government and spent two years as the prime minister’s special representative on international energy issues. He was also made a member of the Privy Council.
It is expected that the freedom award will be formally granted on December 3 at a ceremony before the meeting of the full council.
Labour has begun the process of selecting someone to take the place as Croydon North MP.
Candidates so far have been local to Croydon including former leader of Croydon Council, Val Shawcross and Thornton Heath councillor Louisa Woodley.
Alastair Campbell has ruled himself out of the by-election according to a report in Croydon Today.
The date of the by-election is yet to be finalised.