Express & Star

Tributes as leader of South Staffordshire Council dies after short illness

The leader of South Staffordshire Council has died aged 81 following a short illness.

Last updated
Brian Edwards

Tributes have been paid to Brian Edwards, who had led the council since 2005, following his death on Friday.

The Conservative councillor had served the authority for almost 40 years, having first been elected in 1983.

The long-serving member for Kinver was chairman of the council between 1993 and 1994 before serving as leader for the last 16 years.

Gavin Williamson, MP for South Staffordshire and Education Secretary, said Councillor Edwards had been a "towering figure" who was "incredibly dedicated to public service".

Mr Williamson said: "Since I've been MP for South Staffordshire Brian has been such an amazing and towering figure in terms of his commitment, dedication and drive for delivering for the community right across South Staffordshire.

"He was incredibly dedicated to public service and even when he was poorly he was just working all the time. He was incredibly devoted but always had that twinkle in his eye, he always had good humour and was in good spirits. He would never let anything get him down.

"He always took incredible pride in South Staffordshire being the third lowest council tax authority in the country but he always said he wanted it to be the lowest. There was pride in what been done but knowledge there was more to do."

Councillor Edwards was described as an "exemplary leader" by his deputy Roger Lees.

Councillor Edwards, centre, celebrating during the 2019 election counts

Councillor Lees said: “Brian was incredibly proud of South Staffordshire Council and all that we achieved together over the years.

"He was an exemplary leader and will be missed by all. Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with his wife Barbara and all his family during this desperately sad time.”

Council chief executive, Dave Heywood said: “Brian was an inspirational leader. He was fair, honest and generous with his time, always there to give advice, support and guidance. He was a true gentleman and we will all miss him dearly.”

South Staffordshire Council said Councillor Edwards "provided an outstanding service to the people and businesses of South Staffordshire", adding he was "passionate about the district, his residents and his council".

His MBE for Services to the Community in 2015 was described as his "proudest moment".

Brian Edwards with the former leaders of Wolverhampton City and Staffordshire County councils, Roger Lawrence (left) and Philip Atkins, at the i54

His leadership was recognised at a national level when he was awarded the Local Government Information Unit (LGIU) Councillor Achievement Award in 2013 and subsequently accepted awards on behalf of South Staffordshire Council for the nationally acclaimed i54 business park on the border with Wolverhampton.

As well as being leader of South Staffordshire Council, Councillor Edwards represented Kinver on the parish council and was a Staffordshire County Council member from 1989 to 2017.

He also supported many charitable organisations including being an active member of the Rotary Club, the Royal British Legion and a Fiduciary of Oldswinford Hospital School.

The council said arrangements for his funeral would be announced via its website