Safeguarding the Tradition of Borough Freedom

Safeguarding the Tradition of Borough Freedom

To the Council of the Executive of F.E.W (15-02-2020)

I feel duty bound to bring attention to the weakening of regulatory control over Admissions to Borough Freedom.

Firstly, I am one who is ambivalent over the various forms of freemen within our Association. I also recognise the dichotomy affecting our wishes to increase the numbers within our Society. Everyone of us recognise the diminishing nature of take-up of freedom in the modern day. However, this surely must not be allowed to become a ‘free-for-all’. Regulation, even with such traditions is ruled by law.

The L.D.E.D (Democracy) Act 2009, relaxed the admission rules. I am concerned (to a degree) that some Gilds have extended the measures of the Act beyond its remit. Further that – In our recently distributed Journal, page 6, is a comment made by the Derby Freemen. It implies that regulation can be extended to admission of ‘bloodline’ generations, suggesting no limitation. I am very worried about this implication as one who has fought for correct regulation. It has readily been picked up by my own Gild associates at Sudbury who are looking for applicants to increase their numbers.

I am not sure whether I am advocating censorship editing of our FEW Journal, but I am very concerned that it will be seen as an instrument of advice and support by inference. Again, I fully understand what a huge problem we have. We need to engage, encourage and accumulate freemen into our Association. After all this is a large part of my activities with the Area Wardens. However, my concerns are that by diluting the ‘description’ of freemen there will be consequences. I believe I hold fair and liberal views generally, but on this subject I feel committed. 

For many years I have defended the rights of freemen and of freedom. My purpose has always been to illustrate the unique nature of the custom and traditions of freedom. If membership becomes available to anybody it will certainly loose any ‘value’. I do not advocate the exclusivity of a masonic order but do wish recognition of custom and tradition. We have already passed a ‘blind eye’ to the Gilds inviting non-freemen ‘worthies’ to join their Companies. There are also many examples of Gilds manipulating the 2009 Act regulations which we have allowed to be ‘overlooked’.

However, I believe it is essential that we keep to the principles of regulation, recognised in law and that we operate a responsible council.

Alan Shelley

Vice President, 15 February 2020

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