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It's Christmas and everyone's a winner; Ironangle.

Byline: PAUL DALE

Acarefully-selected judging panel embracing the very best of FIFA's ethical approach to such matters has been burning the midnight oil cogitating over Iron Angle's 2010 awards, and here are the results of their deliberations.

Sadly, there are no cash prizes on offer in Austerity Birmingham, but winners may use the title of their award for the next year.

Given that about 80 per cent of city councillors appear to say or do little at all, there is bound to be a limited field for Angriest Politician of the Year.

The contenders are, however, permanently cross about something or other. The Aldens - John and Deirdre - fume about the inadequacies, as they see it, of the modern world.

Red tape, health and safety, bungling bureaucrats, new-fangled computers, these are the sorts of things that annoy the Aldens. Let's hope the Daily Telegraph never goes tabloid, it could send them over the edge.

The council's new call centre, involving as it does Capita and new technology, regularly proves a toxic mix for John and especially Deirdre, who recently upon hearing that phone calls from members of the public were being cut off as a result of computer failure, fumed: "Heads must roll." Seems a bit harsh.

John Lines, the cabinet member for housing, is of course famously angry and likes to present himself as a champion for "our people", whoever they are. Matt Bennett, the Tory councillor for Stockland Green, is surprisingly angry for such a young man. His epic performance railing against police authority complacency and appallingly poor crime detection rates was almost worthy of an award by itself.

But the Aldens, Lines and Bennett appear content with life compared with Brandwood Labour councillor Mike Leddy.

Councillor Leddy has recently been giving the impression of a man on a very short fuse indeed, even lapsing into swearing at scrutiny committee meetings.

He stormed out of one session, taking exception to something said by a representative from Birmingham Forward, with a parting shot: "You are a disgrace to the business community". Mike Leddy is the Angriest Politician of the Year.

The financial crisis facing Birmingham City Council has presented huge challenges to the authority's chief officers.

Some are having a good war, others are not.

A man definitely on the up is the new Strategic Director of Resources, Paul Dransfield, whose rise to fame has been achieved while never saying anything remotely quotable or doing anything remotely reportable.

Mr Dransfield's success has been at the expense of Corporate Director of Governance Mirza Ahmad, whose job title is to disappear. Some people think Mirza may be disappearing from the council soon, too.

There is really only one contender for Officer of the Year, and that is chief executive Stephen Hughes who almost single-handedly convinced the council's political leadership to take radical action at an early stage when faced by pounds 300 million of Government spending cuts.

Given that the Labour group has 41 members, second only in size to the Conservatives, you'd think there would be a large number of candidates for Opposition Councillor of the Year. Think again. One of Labour's problems is that most members make no impact. Even some who, I am reliably informed, are in the shadow cabinet, rarely speak in the chamber, or if they do are woefully inadequate.

Group leader Sir Albert Bore is impressive when he can be bothered, but his lifelong obsession with "process" and council standing orders hardly fills one with breathless anticipation when he stands to speak.

Sir Albert is definitely being outpaced by deputy Labour leader Ian Ward, whose forensic examination of scrutiny committee witnesses has impressed throughout the year.

Ward is one of very few Labour councillors who have coped after the party was thrown out of office in 2004, and he has grown in stature. Ian Ward is Opposition Councillor of the Year.

Iron Angle's blue riband award, Cabinet Member of the Year, goes to a worthy winner.

Considered for this, and discounted, were council leader Mike Whitby, whose enthusiasm for and belief in Birmingham remains undimmed by the most savage spending cuts in living memory, and leisure cabinet member Martin Mullaney, whose passion for culture and the arts has been a breath of fresh air.

Sue Anderson, the cabinet member for Adults and Communities, continues to perform political miracles - managing to close down most of the council's decrepit old people's homes without a single whimper or demonstration from protesters.

Tim Huxtable, the new cabinet member for transportation and regeneration, is a man who looks like he might actually do something with a portfolio that in recent years has succumbed to torpor.

Head and shoulders above his colleagues, in my estimation, is John Lines, the combative cabinet member for housing.

Lines is not everyone's cup of tea, indeed, as is well known, he is not my cup of tea.

But no one can deny his single-minded determination to put the council's housing stock into a decent state of repair, and one can only sit back and applaud his house building programme which is on course to exceed a target of 600 new homes in just over a year. In the season of goodwill and peace to all men, John Lines is Cabinet Member of the Year.
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Dec 30, 2010
Words:878
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