Those outside Birmingham’s political bubble, or the Washwood Heath community, could be forgiven for never having heard of Mariam Khan – but that is beginning to change after a series of increasingly high-profile appointments and events.

The young inner city councillor last week became one of five West Midlands representatives on the Labour Party’s influential National Policy Forum – a body which will be consulted by the new Jeremy Corbyn regime.

She was also confirmed as the new chairman of the Eid Mela Committee, responsible for organising running one of the largest Muslim cultural festivals in the country.

Her rise is owed in some part to the support of her local MP. His infamous ‘there’s no money left’ letter was held up a symbol of Labour’s financial incompetence during the general election campaign but somehow Liam Byrne secured his Hodge Hill seat while more than doubling his majority.

His campaign was mired in controversy – over an election rally she organised, and later when the ‘tough on immigration’ rhetoric in one of his leaflet was accidentally condemned by the council leader. But even so the campaign was a resounding success.

During a quiet moment at the election count in the ICC, Mr Byrne credited his victory to Mariam Khan, who it turns out was his campaign manager.

You would have thought Mr Byrne had seen it all during his years of political campaigning but he said he had been hugely impressed by Ms Khan’s ability and described her as future Government and cabinet material.

Elected as member for Washwood Heath in 2012 at the tender age of 21, she remains Birmingham’s youngest councillor.

At the time it was widely thought, particularly as she was also a full time student at the University of Leicester, she would remain in the shadow of her influential uncle, long serving councillor Ansar Ali Khan, and keep quiet in the background doing as she was told (at least until she has a few more years under her belt).

Instead she swiftly became one of the council’s more outspoken members and over those three intervening years has matured as a politician.

But she is no shrinking violet, often at the front of rallies, debates and protests. Recently she has been a vocal supporter for the campaign to resettle refugees from Syria, and even spent this weekend on an aid mission to the migrant camps in Calais – using social media to report back on the distressing plight of those housed in camps there.

But it has not always been positive headlines – she has also at times courted controversy.

A recent brush with the national media was as co-organiser of pre-election Labour Party rally in Washwood Heath at which men and women were segregated – the event proved an embarrassment for the pro-equality party candidates.

At other times Coun Khan has proved a staunch feminist. For one year she chaired the community safety scrutiny committee where she pushed domestic violence up the political agenda – vehemently arguing that cultural sensitivities should not allow the issue to be swept under the carpet or ignored .

Although disappointed not to be re-elected as chairman this year, partly because the number of committees has been halved, she is not going to go away.

Her election to the National Policy Forum will increase networking opportunities and her sympathy for the Palestinian cause is in tune with the new national party leadership.

And as newly-appointed chairman of the popular Eid Mela organising committee she has the opportunity to further cement her position in the social, political and cultural community of this city.

With such a career trajectory it would appear that Mr Byrne’s prediction may be on the money.

Cheese grater style

An artist's impression of the proposed new Birmingham Conservatoire in Eastside
An artist's impression of the proposed new Birmingham Conservatoire in Eastside

We’ve heard of brutlism, art deco and classical styles of architecture but Birmingham is now creating its very own – the cheese grater style.

That’s according to politician, planning committee member and esteemed design guru John Clancy who finds a recent fad in architecture a little ‘unispiring’.

He had earlier this year likened designs for the new Birmingham Conservatoire at Millennium Point to the aforementioned kitchen implement and now found a similarly designed block nestling among new offices proposed for Chamberlain Square and Paradise.

“It strikes me we seem to have developed a cheese grater school of architecture,” he said and then called for something more original and more uplifting to line one of Birmingham’s main public squares.

Chamberlain Square

Good news alert

It made a refreshing change to turn on the national news this week and see Birmingham celebrated rather than derided.

The unveiling of the bright, open and airy New Street Station was held up as a symbol of Birmingham’s economic transformation and a forerunner of further development and growth - most notably HS2 and Paradise.

At a time like this it is easy to forget just how long and hard commuters, politicians and even the local media had to complain and campaign to get the investment and action to deliver such a landmark project.