Tim Peake’s Freedom of the City ceremony is still on the agenda for the European Space Agency (ESA) – despite 18 months of frustration trying to fix a date.
Despite Chichester City Council being assured in July 2016 that the ceremony was a ESA priority, it was omitted from Major Peake’s UK tour after he returned to earth, despite a visit to his home city of Chichester in January.
Resident Edward Milward-Oliver’s original request for the astronaut to be bestowed with the honour was accepted by the council in February last year while he was in space, and at a meeting on Wednesday, September 6, he asked for an update.
Mr Milward-Oliver asked: “In light of Tim Peake’s admittedly fleeting visits to Westbourne Primary School, the Festival of Speed, the Novium and other venues in the region, can the town clerk provide a written report?”
Clerk Rodney Duggua replied: “I am now dealing with a new face at the European Space Agency who assures me at very regular intervals that the matter of a hometown visit is being taken seriously.
“However, I have to say that in July 2016, ESA did tell us that our request about the freedom ceremony and at that time the now defunct freedom parade, which was cancelled at the request of Tim Peake, that we would be given priority over all other requests.
“That was in July and you will all form your own opinions from the UK tour that occurred in October last year, and the University of Portsmouth visit last November to receive an honour degree.
“But this new person has absorbed the message I have been communicating for some time now and I would hope that by our next meeting in November we would have not just an updated report but a firm date.”
The town clerk was praised for his persistence and deputy mayor Martyn Bell said agreeing to hand Major Peake with the keys had helped create the ‘marvellous’ Tim Peake exhibition, still on at the Novium museum.
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