This time last year there was a feeling that political change was on the way in Birmingham – the feeling that a referendum would deliver an elected mayor and that a Labour administration waiting in the wings would shake things up a bit.
But that soon faded as the mayor idea was soundly rejected and the new council, with a few exceptions, very much picked up where the old one left off.
The change in administration has forced several new faces to the fore and changes to the constitution have been substantial and not without controversy. The tone has changed with a more combative approach to Central Government.
But in substantive policy terms, apart from the Living Wage which improved the pay for about 2,500 mainly part-time staff, there has been little difference so far.
That seems all set to change next year with wheelie bins, green belt development and budget cuts set to drive clear wedges between the main parties. And that is to be welcomed.
However this is about 2012 and, here, in keeping with the normal seasonal diet of best-ofs, are the unofficial city council awards:
* Comeback of the year: Sir Albert Bore – In this day and age it is difficult for a political leader, once their party has been plunged into opposition, as the Birmingham Labour group was in 2004, to retain their position. What is even more remarkable is that Sir Albert remained leader of the opposition for eight long years.
It is also worth pointing out that for much of the last decade he harboured ambitions of becoming the first directly elected mayor of Birmingham but with the referendum looming in April appeared to have been outflanked on the way to the Labour nomination.
The end result is that he has returned to Birmingham City Council leadership with greater power and a more secure position than he enjoyed a decade ago.
* Grafter award: Deputy leader Ian Ward – it seems there is not much under the complex new cabinet system that Coun Ward is not responsible for; wholesale markets, Service Birmingham, culture, sport, finance, HR policy, even wheelie bins and as a result he has spent about 14 hours in front of scrutineers and has demonstrated a grasp of his mega-portfolio.
Opposition members tell me his the cabinet member they have been most impressed by.
* Naughty step: Stewart Stacey – the cabinet member for contracts was sent packing after turning up to committee without his homework. He must try harder when he faces teacher Majid Mahmood in January.
* Limelight grabber: Waseem Zaffer – after becoming chairman of the social cohesion scrutiny committee the novice Handsworth councillor shamelessly paraded in front of the national media asking the question ‘What Is a Brummie?’.
We await the answer in February. Close contenders in this category were Philip Parkin, who has done more than most to forge council links with international rock stars and health chief Steve Bedser for his headline-generating decision to tick off contestants on I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here for smoking on TV.
* Blink and you’ll miss it campaign: Liam Byrne MP – announced he would stand for elected mayor. A week later the whole thing was rejected. Were the two events linked I wonder.
* Shoot the messenger award: Chief executive of Service Birmingham Stewart Wren – blaming journalists, councillors, council officers and anyone else within earshot for the poorly performing parts of the multi-million pound operation.
* With friends like these award: Barry Henley – as director of Service Birmingham his assessment of the contract and service was pretty brutal.
* Miss Haversham award: Former Lib Dem cabinet member Martin Mullaney – who sits at home firing internet vitriol at the Labour council while he laments over what could have been at the last election.
* If at first you don’t succeed award: Timothy Huxtable – who despite losing four call-ins in just over half a year seems undimmed in his determination to challenge Cabinet decisions. He mentioned that he once won a call-in – against his own coalition Cabinet.
* Campaigner of the year: James Hutchings – was left pretty much alone to work on the unfashionable anti-mayor campaign while his MP collaborators sat back in London. And won the day.
* Surprise package: Rob Pocock – This would could have gone to relative newcomers James McKay and Brigid Jones who found themselves promoted to cabinet ahead of tried and tested rivals.
But surely most surprising was seeing Rob Pocock elected as Sutton Coldfield’s first ever Labour Party representative.
He’s let himself down a bit though by voting with Tories on just about every important local issue.
* Gallant effort award: Sion Simon – did more than anyone to convince Brummies to give the mayoral thing a real go.
* Communist philosopher award: Eric Pickles – managed to invoke Trotosky, Marx and Mao while discussing Birmingham’s financial difficulties.
* Vow of silence award: Mike Whitby – for not speaking at council question time since becoming leader of the opposition. Some suggested he is letting deputy Robert Alden get some practice before a handover in 2013.
* Mayan award for prophecy: Sir Albert Bore – it’s the end of the world as we know it he said, critics wonder whether, any of it will actually happen – rather like the Mayan apocalypse.
* The Pickfords award: Mike Whitby – for taking his furniture and artwork with him when he was replaced as council leader in May.