Robbie Williams to accept Freedom of the City of Stoke-on-Trent in private

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Stoke-on-Trent councillors have criticised Potteries superstar Robbie Williams’s plans to celebrate his Freedom of the City honour behind closed doors.

The city council held a vote to award the Freedom of the City to the 40-year-old singer on Thursday, March 20, which was unanimously backed by councillors.

But they were later told by Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s chief executive John van de Laarschot in an email that Robbie will not be collecting his award in public.

He told staff in an email: “It is anticipated that the ceremony will be a  very small and  private  affair – attended by Robbie and his immediate family only.”

The email said Robbie’s management company said it would be a closely guarded event, possibly involving a ban on media attending.

Cllr Paul Breeze, who backed plans for the Burslem-born Take That star to receive the Freedom of the City, said he was disappointed Stoke-on-Trent people would not be able to take part in the presentation and said a better option would be for Robbie to be presented with the accolade at the home of Port Vale, who he has supported since he was a child.

He told StaffsLive: “The Freedom of the City is a public honour.

“My argument is – why has the ceremony got to be small ?

“Why can’t it be at Vale Park, with thousands of people to witness with high security?

“Robbie could even arrive by helicopter on to the pitch and leave via helicopter to a private celebration afterwards at a destination unknown to the public.

“The logic of this strictly only family ceremony seems very flawed and disappointing.”

Cllr Ann James said: “Residents were looking forward to seeing him accepting the award, so I am disappointed for those residents.

“It doesn’t have to be a big affair, just something would have been nice”

Stoke-on-Trent’s Lord Mayor Sheila Pitt said she believed Robbie and his family wanted to remain out of the public eye.

Robbie is joining a list of 64 other famous Stoke-on-Trent people who have been given Freedom of the City, including footballing legend Sir Stanley Matthews,  for their outstanding commitment to Staffordshire.

Stoke City FC were given the award in 2013.

The Potters hosted a massive ceremony on during their Britannia Stadium game against Cardiff City.

Stoke City’s head of media and communications, Fraser Nicholson, said: “We were honoured to be recognised in such a public fashion, but we also respect Robbie’s decision to opt for a private family ceremony.

“The reason we opted for a public ceremony was so that  we could share this moment with our fans.”

 

 

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