The campaign for a referendum on whether Birmingham should be governed by a directly elected mayor will come nowhere near obtaining the 36,000 signatures required automatically to trigger such a vote. But the final figure, which looks like being about 12,000 signatures, remains a sizeable achievement which cannot be ignored.
It is a matter now for Local Government Secretary Hazel Blears to decide whether to use special powers to order a referendum in any case on the grounds that the circumstances are right. We hope that she does so, if for no other reason than to bring final closure to a debate that has festered in Birmingham for seven years.
Ms Blears will know that the city council behaved disgracefully in 2001 by ignoring the result of a consultative ballot in which 53.6 per cent voted for two different types of elected mayor. The council sided instead with the 46 per cent support who wanted a leader and cabinet system. She must also know that the time is right, given the Government's consistent stance about big cities needing more effective leadership, to re-visit this subject.
As for the dogged opposition to elected mayors from city council leader Mike Whitby, does he really need to worry? Whitby is riding high at the moment, celebrating the most sustained period of achievement since taking office in 2004. Even his arch critic, the Birmingham businessman John James, has decided to eat humble pie by admitting that the council leader is doing a good job.
Mike Whitby would certainly be the Conservative front runner for the job if the people of Birmingham voted in favour of having a directly elected mayor. And if the vote went against a mayor, Whitby would have the satisfaction of knowing that he had been right all along. It is what he might call a win-win situation.