PLANS to award NHS and care workers Freedom of the Borough in Dudley have moved a step closer, after council chiefs gave the scheme the green light.

The request, submitted by Councillor Keiran Casey earlier this month, called for carers to be awarded the accolade as a mark of thanks for their dedication during the coronavirus pandemic.

Now, council bosses have confirmed the proposal will go to an extraordinary meeting of the Full Council in July following cross party consultation.

From there plans can be made for formal presentation when it is safe to do so, while designs are also being developed for the creation of a monument in the borough as a lasting mark of thanks.

Councillor Keiran Casey, whose request kick started the plan, said: "It's great news that our request has been given the go ahead.

"For me, this is about recognising on mass, the hundreds and hundreds of NHS, health and social care workers right across our borough and showing them that we value the work they have and continue to do during this pandemic.

"It's about us as a Borough saying very simply, thank you and ensuring frontline staff have the recognition they deserve now, a nice way of giving some good and positive news during this time and for them to know we're all on their side and will get through this together."

Councillor Patrick Harley, leader of Dudley Council, said once the plan is given approval by Full Council, work will take place across parties to arrange the best way to honour organisations and individuals for their work.

Councillor Harley said: "Whilst the fight against the pandemic is not yet complete and physical presentations remain some way into the future, it’s important we are ready to recognise the amazing efforts of so many. We will look to get formal approval at July’s Full Council which will be held virtually due to the ongoing social distancing requirements.

"Formal presentations and opportunities for people to personally show appreciation will of course follow at an appropriate time."

"Once the Freedom honour has been agreed through the formal meeting we propose to work cross party to find the best way to recognise the achievements of many and do this in a disciplined and rewarding manner which hopefully some of them can enjoy with families present.

"If we are to do this it will be organised correctly with organisations and individuals recognised for their amazing contribution. In addition to the Freedom Ceremony I also want other events to recognise different organisations with their families present and to honour certain individuals, whose exploits will not be known to us as of yet."

The Freedom of the Borough is the highest accolade the council can bestow and former recipients include RAF Cosford, the 63 Military Intelligence Company in Stourbridge, Dudley's own Sir Lenny Henry and Halesowen tennis ace Jordanne Whiley.

The formal proposal for the Freedom of the Borough is set to go before Full Council on July 23, which will be held virtually.