A lasting tribute to honour a much respected former leader of the city council has been officially unveiled in the community he worked hard to develop.

A street within Bilston Urban Village has been named Norman Davies Gardens, after former leader and councillor Norman Davies OBE.

Mr Davies was leader of the city’s Labour Group from 1987 to 2002 and of the council from 1988 to 1992 and again from 1994 to 2002. He served as a councillor for Spring Vale ward and later Bilston East from 1973 to 1984 and 1986 to 2002.

He was one of the driving forces behind the establishment of Bilston Urban Village and was instrumental in securing City status for Wolverhampton at the turn of the millennium. He was awarded the OBE in the 1990s.

Mr Davies passed away in March 2018 and Norman Davies Gardens will serve as a lasting tribute to his dedication to develop the urban village which offers affordable homes and employment opportunities for local people.

Bilston Urban Village was created following multi million pound investment by City of Wolverhampton Council, Homes England and the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership to remediate brownfield land through a range of major works.

It includes almost 500 new homes, extensive areas of open space to increase biodiversity, new schools, WV Active Bilston leisure centre, a 15 acre employment site, and purpose built transport and pedestrian connectivity. 

Although the road name was allocated in autumn 2019, an official ceremony to mark the naming had been delayed during the pandemic.

At the official event held on Friday (16 September) were Mr Davies’ wife Mary, who made a small speech paying tribute to her husband, and close family members.

Other attendees included Lady Patricia Turner, wife of former Wolverhampton South East MP Lord Bilston Dennis Turner, Jill Withers, former office manager for Lord Bilston, current Wolverhampton South East MP Pat McFadden and Bilston East ward councillors Stephen Simkins, Jill Wildman and Rashpal Kaur. 

Councillor Simkins, fellow ward councillor and City of Wolverhampton Council’s Deputy Leader, said: “Norman was a much respected, straightforward man with no frills or fuss – a great leader of the council, a great leader of men.

"He was a real family man and deeply working class – he revelled in it and was proud of it. He was committed to Bilston and never shied away from decision making.

“He would have been so proud of the development of Bilston Urban Village, which has provided fantastic new homes and employment opportunities for our local residents.”

Pat McFadden MP said: “I’m delighted to see a street in the new development named after Norman Davies. He devoted his life to public service in Wolverhampton, leading the council and in particular our drive to become a city in the run up to the millennium.  

“After he retired, Norman and his wife Mary were always a source of good advice and wise counsel for me. I will always be grateful to him for the support and the warm welcome he and Mary gave me whenever I visited.  It’s great to see that a part of the city will always carry his name.”  

Mr Davies, who was 84, had been involved in many local organisations over the years, including the Beacon Centre for the Blind, the Black Country Museum Trust, One Voice, Wolverhampton and Bilston Athletics Club, Wolverhampton Sports Advisory Council, the West Midlands Local Government Association, West Midlands Crime and Police Panel, Safer Wolverhampton Partnership, Wolverhampton Learning Disability Partnership, Wolverhampton Older People's Partnership Board, Wolverhampton Network Consortium, Wolverhampton Race Equality Council and the West Midlands Regional Assembly.

He also served on the Board of the Black Country Development Corporation and as Chair of Wolverhampton City Challenge, and was an active trade unionist. He worked for many years at Cannon Industries in Coseley.