I was pleased that, at its July meeting, Merton Council unanimously adopted my nomination to award the Freedom of the Borough posthumously to the Rev Dr Andrew Wakefield, who died unexpectedly last October (‘Freedom award to reverend who died’, 20 July 2017). The award will be made at a special meeting in the autumn, when his friends and family can be present.
As the previous (Conservative) Leader of the Council, I was impressed from the outset of my time (2006-10) at Andrew Wakefield's grasp of a whole range of community related issues - over and above his duties as a Church of England vicar. Not only was he instrumental in promoting and leading interfaith forums but chaired the Merton Chamber of Commerce as well as being involved in various Safer Communities programmes as a passionate advocate of inclusion and social cohesion – both in Merton and across London.
It was no surprise that the local body of government and quasi government organisations (known as the Local Strategic Partnership) got Andrew to chair the development of the Merton Community Plan, which is still in place.
Members of the public probably knew little of the impact made by this unelected servant of the community and it is only right that we seek, on a cross party basis, to recognise, for posterity, Andrew Wakefield's contribution to the quality of life we all enjoy here in Merton.
Cllr David Williams JP
Former Conservative Leader of Merton Council