The highest honour that can be awarded by the borough was presented to the former leader of the council this week

In recognition of Sir David Williams’ service to Richmond, the leader of the council, Cllr Paul Hodgins and the leader of the opposition, Cllr Gareth Roberts, presented Sir David with a Freedom of the Borough accolade, at a special council meeting, on July 6.

The former leader represented Ham and Petersham ward on the council from 1974 to 2014, and was leader of the council from 1983 to 2001, and a cabinet member for another five years.

Sir David Williams, said: “Representing my local community for 40 years has been an enormous privilege, and more than half of that time I was able to lead the borough as either the council leader or a cabinet member.

“However, I wouldn’t have had the success I did without the support of both my fellow councillors and the council officers.

“I also hope my contributions to Ham and Petersham will be remembered in the years to come.”

Sir David, who recently announced his retirement from local politics, has been the only person to have held his leadership post – of 18 years – for so long.

Cllr Paul Hodgins, leader of Richmond Council, said: “Awarding Sir David the highest honour that the borough can give is in recognition of his contribution to public life over more than 40 years.

“It celebrates his huge commitment to our community - Many of his achievements are still having a huge impact, including the redevelopment of Richmond Riverside.”

Sir David was the first Liberal Democrat group leader and vice chair at the Local Government Association (LGA) in 1997-2001, where he received a knighthood in 1999 for his services.

Cllr Gareth Roberts, Leader of the Opposition, said:"The immense contribution made by David to our life here in Richmond cannot be under-estimated

“The protections and investment in the public realm put in place under his leadership have helped shape the borough into what is widely acknowledged to be an outstanding place to live.

“David has set the gold standard to which all subsequent leaders of the council should aspire and it is fitting that his achievements are duly recognised by the council."