There were history lessons a plenty as Whitby & co debated what was his eighth and probably final budget as council leader.
In fact, the showcase debate was so sodden in history they could probably swap the video with footage from 12 months ago and no one would notice. It was like the UK Gold of council meetings.
The three party leaders Whitby, Tilsley and Bore, all possible mayoral contenders, seemed to sleepwalk into the issue repeating their well-worn arguments.
Whitby spent several minutes repeating the history of the economic crisis and then told us that New Street Station is being redeveloped and that Birmingham is going places thanks to High Speed Rail.
Tilsley blamed the last Labour Government for the public sector deficit and told us that the business transformation project had saved the council a billion and left people queuing on the phone instead of outside neighbourhood offices.
Meanwhile, Bore complained that the Tory Lib Dem coalition Government had punished Birmingham with spending cuts, while more prosperous parts of the south had done relatively well.
He also complained that the Government’s stranglehold on council finance is so tight there is only scope for minor tinkering – about £6 million worth in a £3.5 billion ocean.
This is almost exactly as it was in February 2012.
The budget debate takes about four hours, but can seem like several days. So much hot air was expended that the Lord Mayor even allowed the visibly wilting participants to remove their jackets.
No one likes making cuts, but they do like blaming the other side for them.
Of course there is some new material. The council is reversing some of the unpopular cuts from last year, thanks to a few councillors nervous about their seats and the odd legal challenge.
And Paul Tilsley made a joke about patching things up with Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles and admitting he likes to throw away his tikka masala leftovers.
This is in some way excused as the end of term event it was. There is widespread recognition that after eight years the Tory-Lib Dem coalition’s days running the city council seem to be ending.
But Bore summed things up when he pointed out that when George Osborne gives his budget to the House of Commons in a few weeks it will not be to “stunned silence”.
There was none of the jeering and cheering that usually ensues from these affairs.
Unfortunately for Bore his own troops did not really get the hint, and his well-crafted, expertly-delivered speech did not receive a tumultuous response – at least not initially and not from the Labour ranks.
Instead he gave the ruling group something to go at in his assertion that the decision to set low council tax several years ago had cost the city £70 million in revenue – enough to offset the new cuts this year.
One of Whitby’s keynote policies in eight years was to pin annual council tax increases at a below inflation – this has been set in stone until last year’s council tax freeze was imposed by Eric Pickles.