ONE of Eastleigh's longest-serving councillors is set to be given the freedom of the borough.

Former council leader and twice mayor Margaret Kyrle will become only the ninth person since the current borough was formed in 1974 to receive the accolade if councillors agree to the move.

In 1972 she became the first-ever Liberal councillor elected to the authority. She has also served as a JP since 1979 and was awarded the OBE in 1991 for public and political service. She lost her Chandler's Ford seat in this year's May elections.

Mrs Kyrle was at the helm of Eastleigh council when plans for the town's prestigious Swan covered shopping centre got off the ground and also started negotiations which resulted in the redevelopment of the Eastleigh-based Southampton International Airport.

Current Eastleigh council leader Keith House said: "Margaret Kyrle served on the council for 30 years from 1972 to earlier this year.

"Her period of service to the community is remarkable both as leader of the council in the late 1980s when the successful Swan Centre was built, to twice serving as mayor of the borough.

"It is fitting that the council marks her record of service with the highest award available from the borough."

Thursday's special meeting of the council is expected to grant the award, which will be formally presented in the spring.

Mrs Kyrle told the Daily Echo: "This has come as a great surprise, but I think it is lovely. I feel very honoured."