Tributes have been paid to Lord Bilston - better known as Dennis Turner - who died aged 71 yesterday (Tuesday 25 February).

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Dennis was elected as a councillor for Bilston East in 1966 and continued in the role, serving on many committees, until he became an MP for Wolverhampton South East in 1987.

He stepped down as an MP in 2005 and was made a life peer, taking on the title of Lord Bilston. He was also made a Freeman of Wolverhampton in 2006.

Dennis' brother Bert - himself a former Mayor - is a current serving councillor for Bilston East.

The council posted news of Dennis' passing on its official Type=links;Linkid=1397;Title=Twitter;Target=_blank; and Type=links;Linkid=1398;Title=Facebook;Target=_blank; pages last night and was inundated with messages from people paying their respects.

Flags are flying at half mast outside the Civic Centre today.

The Mayor of Wolverhampton, Councillor Milkinder Jaspal, said: "He was one of the rare individuals who was born and grew up in the area that he was to represent with great distinction. He was one of the few politicians who connected with the people. Everyone knew him and he knew everyone."

Councillor Roger Lawrence, Leader of Wolverhampton City Council, said: "Dennis was a hugely popular councillor, MP and member of the Lords. He was an unashamed advocate for Bradley, Bilston and Wolverhampton. Just like Bilston steel, they don't make them like that anymore."

Tributes have also come in from national politicians. Leader of the Labour Party, Ed Miliband, tweeted: "Very sad to hear about the passing of Dennis Turner. He dedicated his life to public service and the people of Wolverhampton and Bilston."

Former Deputy Prime Minister Lord Prescott said: "So sad to here of Dennis Turner's passing. A true working class fighter for social justice and a passionate Black Country advocate."

Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, Harriet Harman, described Dennis as a "sharp-witted, decent Labour man".

There were also tributes from across the political divide. Councillor Neville Patten, Leader of the council's Conservative group, said it was a "great loss to Bilston and Wolverhampton" and described Dennis as a "champion of Bilston".

  • released: Wednesday 26 February, 2014