Now, the end is near... I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain
off many assets and its dire situation was exacerbated by the equal pay debacle which sucked more than £1 billion from the city bank account.
There has been a big failure on housing from all sides and all levels of Government, which is only now beginning to be addressed.
As journalists we glory in our battles with the political bigwigs, taking the leaders down a notch or two, deflating a few egos, exposing hypocrisy and wrongdoing and even winning a Freedom of Information battle with bureaucrats.
The move from newspaper journalism to the online arena has shown us more than ever what our readers enjoy and will take the time to read.
So there is less focus on the politicians – who’s got what job, which backbencher is tipped for future leadership, who is being disloyal. Party spats matter little. Whether a local councillor is a Corbynista or a Brexiteer is of no concern to many. It is what they are doing and how it impacts on lives that matters.
The readers want to know where the 1,000 homes will be built, how much they will be charged for driving into the city centre and parking when they get there, where schools are opening and closing, when the new tram line will be finished and why they are waiting so long for a council house.
And like me, they love planning stories. It is one of the few council committees which makes genuine decisions, where those decisions are not taken on party lines and offer a visible difference to the city’s landscape.
There are also stories which need to be told and there will still be correspondents, including a new clutch of local democracy reporters shared with the BBC, ploughing through the council’s accounts, analysing the multi-million pound contracts and holding decision makers to account.
Personally, it is the stories which make a difference which linger in the memory.
It was our coverage, following an approach by three taxi drivers, of the poorly signposted city centre bus lanes in 2013 which led to more than 40,000 fines being cancelled and appeals being won.
It was a scandal that parents visiting the Children’s Hospital day after day were suddenly deluged with multiple fines totalling hundreds of pounds and that it took so long for the council to admit its error.
I am also proud that at a time of rising anti-immigrant sentiment, the Post’s sister paper, the Birmingham Mail, decided to campaign for the city to take in its share of refugees from the war-torn hell hole of Syria. Pressure was applied, communities motivated and council leaders listened. Fifty duly arrived.
To see volunteers and charities rally round to help them settle was inspiring. I met one of the families and was happy to pass on their thanks to the city for its warm welcome.
I also recall the case, raised by the Birmingham Citizens campaign group, of the single mum and her children made homeless after fleeing an abusive partner.
A desperate shortage of housing left her stranded in a budget hotel in Stoke-on-Trent, commuting daily down the M6 to get her children to school and herself to work.
Our coverage led to action being taken and she was moved back to the city.
Unfortunately there remain many in similar situations but there is evidence action is being taken.
It has been a joy and privilege to write for the Birmingham Post & Mail and to have a front row seat as the city changes and grows.
But now it’s time for someone else to take on that role.
As journalists we glory in our battles with the political bigwigs, taking the leaders down a notch or two
> Birmingham Post & Mail political guru Neil Elkes (second from right) contributing to the Adam Boulton TV programme during the 2017 general election