Wrexham Tory slams bid to give Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney Freedom of the City
Rory Sheehan, Local Democracy Reporter
A bid to give Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney the Freedom of Wrexham has been criticised by a senior Tory councillor following a ‘F*** the Tories’ social media post.
Rossett Cllr Hugh Hones (Con), lead member for place and environment and leader of the council’s Conservative group voted against making plans to give the Hollywood star co-owners of Wrexham AFC the civic honour for their contribution to the city.
At a meeting of the Executive Board, where the proposal was voted on 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 ‘F*** the Tories’.
Cllr Jones described it as a “message of hate”, and also criticised one of the co-owners for liking the post on Instagram.
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 of 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, it’s 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.”
He asked what message that 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, the founders of Moneypenny and manufacturers of the Covid-19 vaccine.
The council is planning to confer the ‘freedom of the city’ status on the Hollywood A-listers for the impact they have had on Wrexham since buying the football club.
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.
At the Executive Board meeting, opposition leaders, Ruabon Cllr Dana Davies for Labour, and Grosvenor Cllr Marc Jones for Plaid Cymru, criticised the fact that the proposal had come to the Executive Board before full council.
But Cllr Jones added that recognition for the football club was “long overdue” adding that it had “put the town on the map for decades”, praising the volunteers who had saved the club and kept it running before it was purchased by Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney.
The Executive Board voted for the decision to be made at full council, except for Conservative members Cllr Hugh Jones and Erddig Cllr Paul Roberts, who voted against.
The full council meeting will take place on December 21.
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