CALLS are being made for one of Worcester’s best-known former public figures to be handed the Freedom of the City.

Current and former politicians say it is time Mike Layland, who stepped down from Worcester City Council in May after 43 years, got the accolade.

The 77-year-old started his service back in 1966 and went on to become mayor of Worcester twice, city chamberlain and the High Sheriff.

He began as a Labour representative before quitting the party to become an independent.

The retired engine driver represented Nunnery.

Pam Clayton, a former Labour and Tory politician, said: “He was an amazing public servant, a great supporter of Worcester and everyone who wanted help off him, got it. I believe the city should have made more of his retirement. The Freedom of the City would be truly fitting.

The last person to be handed the honour was Worcester Warriors owner Cecil Duckworth in 2008 for his services to sport, business and education.

Although it does not give the holder any privileges, their name is inscribed onto a roll at the Guildhall forever and it remains the highest award Worcester can give.

It would require approval from two-thirds of the council and can only start by one member handing a motion to the mayor of Worcester, Councillor Roger Berry.

Councillor Roger Knight, a Conservative, said: “You shouldn’t serve more than 40 years without some kind of thank you. I would support it fully, as would many others.”

Worcester’s Labour councillors have refused to rule it in or out.

Councillor Adrian Gregson, group leader, said: “We need to look at what the Freedom of the City honour is for and on what basis should it be awarded, before we consider who is appropriate to be considered.”

Since 1800, 33 people have received the honour, including composer Sir Edward Elgar in 1905 and Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin in 1923.

Mr Layland said: “It would be the most fantastic thing that could ever happen to me.”