THE leader of Fareham's council is due to be handed the freedom of the borough.

Councillor Sean Woodward will be awarded the Freedom of the Borough of Fareham in recognition of his distinguished service when he retires in May.

It is Fareham Borough Council's highest honour, presented to individuals or corporate entities that have contributed significantly to the area.

Cllr Woodward, who has served the council from 1986 to 2024, will be the first recipient of the honour under section 249 of the Local Government Act 1972 since 1998. He will be the third individual to receive the honour.

Cllr Nick Walker initiated the motion in a special council meeting on February 23.

Councillor Hockley seconded it, and it was unanimous after a debate filled with praise and commendations for the outgoing leader.

Fareham's Mayor, Councillor Fred Birkett said: "I am delighted to present Sean with the Freedom of the Borough of Fareham.

"This is an extremely prestigious award and is given very rarely to an individual who brings about positive and enduring change.

"I have known Sean for almost a decade during which time he has shown an unswerving commitment and worked tirelessly for the good of the Borough."

Having been awarded the freedom of the Borough, Cllr Woodward said: "I am honoured and humbled to have been made a Freeman of the Borough of Fareham and am very grateful to my fellow councillors for their generous and supportive statements.

"It has been my absolute privilege to serve Fareham for 38 years both as Sarisbury councillor and leader of the council, but I am now looking forward to the next chapter in my life which will include spending quality time with my family."

Cllr Woodward added that he would closely follow significant upcoming projects including introducing new homes at Welborne, infrastructure development at Solent Airport, and the renewal of Fareham town centre featuring venue Fareham Live's inauguration.

He expressed his gratitude to council officers and committed councillors he has worked with over the years.