‘FLINTSHIRE is the good place’, were the words of Lord Barry Jones as he accepted the freedom of the county.
The honour has been granted to the much-loved politician and great orator whose career has spanned more than 50 years.
He was bestowed with the honour by Flintshire Council which has also renamed its chamber at County Hall to become ‘The Lord Barry Jones Chamber’.
A special meeting of the full council was held in that same chamber where the decision to give the honour was unanimously backed, and attended by Lord Jones and his wife Lady Janet.
It was proposed in recognition of Lord Jones’ 52 years of public service as a parliamentarian and his ongoing service and dedication to the local communities that make up Flintshire.
Accepting the honour, Lord Jones said: “Flintshire is a pleasant, fair-minded, open community. A place to enjoy residence.
“I say Flintshire is the good place, wonderful citizenry, nice people. I say to the county, thank you for the county’s imagination, kindness, thoughtfulness and generosity.”
Lord Jones went on to praise the efforts to drive employment and industry to the area, and all the services the authority provides, and the people of Flintshire as a whole.
Lord Jones served as Labour MP for East Flintshire from 1970 to 1983, then Alyn and Deeside until 2001, an unbroken spell of more than 30 years in which he fought eight general elections.
Amongst his many achievements and dedication to the Flintshire community, Lord Jones is warmly regarded throughout the county for his efforts to save the steelworks in Shotton in the 1970s.
Chair of the council, Argoed and New Brighton Cllr Mared Eastwood (Lib Dem) had opened proceedings and paid tribute to Lord Jones and Lady Janet, as did the authority’s chief executive Neal Cockerton.
Council leader, Flint Castle Cllr Ian Roberts (Lab), proposing the honour, said: “Lord Barry over 52 years has been an exemplary example of public service in Flintshire to the people.
“I would like to say thank you for everything that you have done for this county, both yourself and Lady Janet deserve richly this honour.”
Members from across the political spectrum also paid tribute from the Lib Dem group leader Argoed and New Brighton Cllr Hilary McGuill to Eagle group leader Buckley Bistre East Cllr Arnold Woolley, as well as other councillors who shared their personal memories of Lord Barry.
Leader of the Independents, Connah’s Quay Central Cllr Bernie Attridge seconded the motion.
He said: “I have personally known Lord Barry Jones and Lady Janet since I was a small boy.
“Lord Jones was the only politician I knew who could walk up the centre line of a road and residents would come out of their houses.
“There was no hiding behind the curtains or pretending you were not present when Lord Jones was in the street.
“He is a man of the people, always had time to stop and speak.
“Your commitment and dedication to bring the biggest industrial estate in the country at the time to Deeside industrial park after you had stood shoulder to shoulder with our steelworkers and families when the lights went out at British Steel, Lord Jones you showed leadership when it was needed the most.
“You stood up for your constituents in the halls of Westminster and still to this day in the House of Lords.”
Also among the guest speakers were Alyn and Deeside MS Jack Sargeant MS, Hannah Blythyn MS and Police and Crime Commissioner Andy Dunbobbin.
Lord Jones, now 84 years-old, has been an advocate for Flintshire throughout his career and continues to work tirelessly for the people, businesses, and community groups across the county.