Perry Barr street to be named after Birmingham’s first black councillor

Published: Friday, 18th December 2020

A new road within the Perry Barr Residential Scheme is to be named Bert Carless Way, it was revealed today (Friday 18 December).

Alderman Egbert 'Bert' Sylvester Carless, made history when he was elected as Birmingham’s first black councillor in 1979. He was elected a Labour member for Aston ward and served again in 1998-2002 for Ladywood ward.

Bert, as he was known, who migrated to Birmingham from Jamaica when he was 21 years-old, was a well-respected member of the community. He served on the Council’s education committee for almost twenty years and was passionate about speaking out against discrimination. His work was commemorated with an OBE in 1998. He died in 2003.

Bert Carless Way is situated within the new Perry Barr Residential Scheme, situated on the site of the former Birmingham City University Campus. The road became available because an existing road (Franchise Street) was stopped up and subsumed into the site.  

Birmingham City Council’s Cabinet Member for Transport and Environment, Councillor Waseem Zaffar unveiled the new street name at Perry Barr Residential Scheme the construction site today (Friday 18 December). He was joined by local community activist Bishop Dr Desmond Jaddoo and Bert Carless’ great niece, Maxine Tomlinson.

Cllr Zaffar said: “The Council had been looking for ways to honour Bert for some time, and my Cabinet colleagues and I were engaging with local community leaders like Dr Desmond Jaddoo on the most appropriate way to do this. However, when I was told that the Residential Scheme had an unnamed road not covered by the street naming competition it seemed like the perfect opportunity.

“Bert Carless was an inspirational, respected figure who made great strides in achieving more equality and diversity in our city. Therefore, to have Bert Carless Way in amongst Equality Road, Diversity Grove, and Inspire Avenue is an appropriate and fitting tribute.”

Maxine Tomlinson said: “We are pleased to have finally arrived at this point where my uncle, Uncle Carless, is being recognised by Birmingham as the first person of African-Caribbean descent to have served as Councillor and Alderman of the city.

“Cllr Carless served tirelessly within his Ward representing all, and he has a strong and lasting legacy in championing equalities as well as serving on a number of committees across the city.”

Lendlease is the principal contractor for the 1,400 homes within the Perry Barr Residential Scheme.  part of the wider Perry Barr regeneration programme - which includes improved leisure and community facilities, upgraded transport infrastructure and 5,000 new homes.

Anna Evans, Lendlease’s Project Director at Perry Barr, said: “No finer choice could have been made. Bert Carless’ name will live on within the streets of the city he served with such dedication.”

It is expected the homes using the new street names will be ready for occupation in 2023. For more information on the wider plans for the regeneration of Perry Barr, please visit the council’s Perry Barr Regeneration webpages.

rating button