Council to vote on honouring Hollywood stars Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney with the Freedom of Wrexham
Rory Sheehan, local democracy reporter
Councillors will decide next week whether to confer football club owners and Hollywood stars Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney with the Freedom of Wrexham.
A full meeting of Wrexham Council takes place on Wednesday (December 21) during which councillors will vote on the Wrexham AFC owners being given the honour.
But there was controversy last month when the proposal was mooted at the council’s Independent / Conservative coalition executive board meeting.
Conservative group leader, Rossett Cllr Hugh Jones spoke out against giving the famous duo the civic honour for their contribution to the city in the last two years.
At that meeting, where a vote was taken to give full council a final say in the decision, Cllr Jones referenced a widely-reported social media post by Wrexham striker Paul Mullin featuring football boots which contained the slogan ‘**** the Tories’.
‘Message of hate’
Cllr Jones described it as a “message of hate”, and also criticised one of the co-owners for liking the post on Instagram.
During that meeting he said: “I’ve considered this recommendation over the last few weeks quite seriously.
“I’ve looked at the nature of the freedom and the fact its rewarded to people or persons of distinction or rendered eminent service to a place.
“I fully understand the passion for Wrexham football club.
“But for me the timing and the values and the priorities are wrong we’re awarding the freedom at a time when one of their star players has engaged in a message of hate to a section of our community, and one of the owners has liked an Instagram post containing that same message of hate.”
He added: “It’s fine for people to disagree, its how we manage that and how we treat each other.
“Hate is destructive wherever it comes from. When it comes from people of prominence I don’t think that meets the requirements of the freedom of the county borough.
“It’s also about our values as a council and county borough and who we seek to recognise as beacons in our society.”
Cllr Jones asked what message it sent out to schools and young people, before listing a host of other local bodies he felt were equally or more worthy of the honour.
These included the Venture in Caia Park, Rhos Choir for raising thousands of pounds for charity, AVOW, and the founders of Moneypenny.
Cllr Jones was joined in voting against the proposal by fellow Conservative group and executive board member Erddig Cllr Paul Roberts.
Out of the 56 councillors that make up Wrexham Council, six others are Conservative group members.
That the proposal came to executive board before full council also drew criticism from opposition leaders, Ruabon Cllr Dana Davies for Labour, and Grosvenor Cllr Marc Jones for Plaid Cymru, but they are supportive of bestowing the honour in principle.
The proposal is in recognition of the club’s long and proud history, and the impact the two owners have had in helping to promote Wrexham across the world.
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