A MUSIC fan has launched a campaign to win the freedom of Durham City for a local pop singer-songwriter who achieved chart success in the 1980s.

Former city councillor Richard Omerod believes the city council should bestow the honour on Paddy McAloon, songwriter of Prefab Sprout, whose 1988 album From Langley Park to Memphis spawned their biggest hit single, The King of Rock 'n Roll.

Mr McAloon, 50, formed the band with his brother Martin and held early rehearsals at the family's garage in Witton Gilbert, a few miles from the city.

The band went on to win wide acclaim for its music in Britain and abroad.

Mr Ormerod, of Gilesgate, Durham, said: "As well as making fabulous music with Prefab Sprout, his songs have been recorded by major artists such as Kylie Minogue, Cher and Jimmy Nail, and he is widely regarded as one of the finest songwriters of his generation.

"I think it is high time our city recognised and honoured its most famous musical son.

"I think he is someone that Durham should do something to honour as he has achieved greatly in his own particular field.'' Mr Omerod added: "As the city council isn't going to be around much longer - because of the new unitary council - now is the time to do something about it.'' Mr McAloon, who has suffered sight problems in recent years, released a solo album, I Trawl the Megahertz, in 2003.

He wrote the theme tune to the ITV Sunday night drama Where the Heart Is.

Mr Ormerod, who plans to approach the city council about the idea, is urging anybody who supports the campaign to email him at freedom4paddyhotmail.

co.uk The Liberal Democrat leader of the council, Fraser Reynolds, who also comes from Witton Gilbert and knew the McAloon family, said: "I can't commit the council to anything, it would have to be considered carefully by the council members.

He added: "We have all sorts of people who have been given the freedom of the city, from long-standing councillors to the former MP Gerry Steinberg and Archbishop Desmond Tutu."