A MUCH-LOVED councillor who died this morning, Thursday, has become an honorary freeman of the borough.

Pauline Nelson sadly lost her battle with cancer earlier today.

But her family wanted this evening’s scheduled extraordinary council meeting to posthumously award her with Warrington’s highest honour to go ahead.

It was in recognition of her contribution and eminent service to the town.

A member of Birchwood Town Council and Warrington Borough Council for 29 years, Pauline was first elected in May 1991.

The Labour councillor was at the heart of the community she served in Birchwood.

Her years of service include a proud year as Mayor of Warrington in 2003-2004, while she also chaired multiple council committees.

Warrington Guardian:

Pauline Nelson

Furthermore, Pauline was also a huge Warrington Wolves fan and was the founder member of the supporters trust.

Councillors observed a one-minute silence at the start of the virtual extraordinary meeting.

Mayor Cllr Wendy Johnson (LD – Lymm North and Thelwall) highlighted Pauline’s ‘championing of causes for the young and vulnerable’.

Council leader Cllr Russ Bowden (LAB – Birchwood) proposed Pauline to become an honorary freeman, while Cllr Mike Hannon (LAB – Orford) seconded the motion.

Cllr Bowden described Pauline, who came to Warrington in 1979, as a tremendous woman before hailing her ‘outstanding contribution’ to the town.

He said it was an absolute privilege and honour to be proposing her for the honour.

“It’s been an incredible last few months with coronavirus and I think that didn’t really match up to Pauline passing away on the very day we were about to make her a freeman of the borough,” he said.

Warrington Guardian:

Cllr Russ Bowden

“But I don’t think this is a time to be sad. This is an opportunity to pay tribute to Pauline for the formidable contribution she has made over more than 40 years here in Warrington.”

Cllr Hannon labelled her as a ‘true servant’ to the town.

He said: “It’s a great day of celebration and it’s a great day of sadness today to lose Pauline, who I do count as my dear friend.”

Cllr Tony Higgins (LAB – Fairfield and Howley), cabinet member for leisure and community, highlighted Pauline's kindness and generosity as he shared his memories of his time with her.

Meanwhile, Cllr Bob Barr, leader of the town’s Liberal Democrats, said she will be remembered with affection by all who knew her.

“I wish to pass my group’s condolences to Pauline’s family and friends who, however expected the outcome was, will feel shocked and saddened today,” he said.

Warrington Guardian:

Cllr Bob Barr

“She learnt Warrington ways and became a passionate supporter of Warrington Wolves, an institution that attracts support from both the inner and outer parts of Warrington.

“Today, we have lost a loyal Warringtonian and we are the poorer for it.”

Warrington Wolves legend Ben Westwood, who became an honorary citizen of the borough in February, also spoke during the virtual meeting and said Pauline will never be forgotten.

“She was a die-hard Warrington Wolves fan as we all know,” he said.

“She went up and beyond all expectations when it came to her beloved Wolves.

Warrington Guardian:

Ben Westwood

“She was a huge character and she will be missed by so many people.

“There is nobody in this town that I think is more deserving as the freeman of this borough.”

The motion on making Pauline an honorary freeman of Warrington was passed after councillors voted in favour of it.

However, there were abstentions from Liberal Democrats Cllr Barr and Cllr Judith Wheeler (LD – Appleton).

Cllr Barr has released a statement to explain why he abstained.

He said: “Warrington Borough Council held an extraordinary meeting on Thursday July 2 for the appointment of an honorary freeman.

“It was my opinion that the appointment was not correctly discussed with members of the council including opposition groups prior to the release of the summons and that the decision to hold the meeting, while legal, was effectively taken by the leader alone.

“Honorary titles granted by local authorities have both a legal and a traditional basis. The procedure the leader chose to follow in Warrington is out of line with those of most other councils, so I felt obliged to abstain from voting on the motion.

“This is not to take anything away from Cllr Pauline Nelson who was remembered as an outstanding councillor and servant of the community in Warrington.”