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Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009

Introduction and background

63.This Chapter makes amendments to provisions in the Local Government Act 1972 concerning freemen (local freedoms), and honorary aldermen and honorary freemen (honorary titles).

64.The status of “freeman”, derives from the historic traditions of certain towns and cities in England and Wales. Admission as a freeman is dependent on local rules often based on inheritance or apprenticeship, although a very few freedoms may be acquired through marriage. In some towns and cities the freemen, and certain persons related to or associated with them, have property or other rights.

65.Each guild of freemen has its own rules of admission, which may be contained in byelaws, Charters, local Acts or secondary legislation or enshrined in ancient custom and practice. While some guilds have found sufficient flexibility in their rules to enable them to admit women or to make other amendments to their admissions practices, others have not been able to because the sources from which their rules derive have no simple process for amendment. These guilds now face difficulties in maintaining their numbers and in revising their rules to reflect changing times.

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