Under-fire city council leader Sir Albert Bore has sent a resounding "I'm not going anywhere" message to critics.

In a turbulent week, speculation has been growing the city's Labour leader was under pressure after the resignation of cabinet member James McKay.

He has also come under serious fire over the council's response to the Kerslake report which found the authority crippled by deep-seated leadership and cultural problems.

But in an interview with the Post , Sir Albert came out fighting although he admitted he has been facing a "bumpy" time for his leadership.

The Labour leader said the resignation of cabinet member James McKay, who dished out some serious criticism of his leadership, was "unexpected".

Coun McKay had been a councillor for just a year when Sir Albert appointed him to cabinet in 2012 and the two were seen as close political allies.

So the resignation letter, in which he said Sir Albert had "shut himself away from colleagues" and lacked a clear vision, came as a huge shock and left the leader with a sense of betrayal.

Sir Albert said: "I wasn't expecting that, it was a little bit of a surprise. People come in and out of local government, I've seen that happen time and time again.

"James has come to a view around how members should be engaged, doesn't feel we're doing that as well as we should be. I respect that."

He even said Coun McKay could play an important role driving the council improvement from the back benches.

Sir Albert Bore and Coun James McKay
Sir Albert Bore and Coun James McKay

In a bullish interview, the man who has led Birmingham's Labour group continuously since 1999, including two lengthy spells as council leader, defended his record and claimed progress was being made.

The meeting took place at the Library of Birmingham - significantly, overlooking the site opposite where HSBC is building its new UK headquarters - a move which the council's leader was a key player in.

Sir Albert was accompanied by Labour Party regional officials indicating he has their backing.

And he claimed the remaining cabinet members are "united and continue to share my vision for Birmingham".

He said: "It's been a bumpy ride but Birmingham is succeeding, becoming a success story."

He highlighted the arrival of HSBC, Deutsche Bank and the development of Icknield Port Loop as examples, as well as the creation of tens of thousands of jobs, many for young people.

"It's not just on the jobs front. We have an unprecedented level of inward investment and more opportunities coming forward," he added.

"Birmingham is quickly becoming one of the top places for business in the world."

He argued that children's services, following a £21 million increase in budget, was finally turning the corner and action was taken to tackle Trojan Horse as soon as the issue came to light.

Issues with child protection, education and even the huge financial millstone of equal pay were all problems which he inherited when Labour took control of the council from the Tory-Lib Dem coalition, Sir Albert said.

The city council has come under pressure from an increasingly impatient government over child protection failures, the Trojan Horse in schools scandal and the Kerslake report which found the authority crippled by deep-seated leadership and cultural problems - particularly the high-handed way it engages with outside partner organisations.

It is thought by some the Conservative Local Government Secretary Greg Clark sees Sir Albert as a problem and will only take the pressure off if he goes.

Sir Albert Bore (right) speaks to Birmingham Post local government correspondent Neil Elkes
Sir Albert Bore (right) speaks to Birmingham Post local government correspondent Neil Elkes

Sources suggest Coun McKay had come to the same conclusion and that was borne out by his resignation letter.

"I've been critical of the Government cuts talking about the end of local government as we know it, and make no apology for that," he said.

"Obviously, government didn't like what I said. So perhaps government sees Birmingham as a problem because we've been so vocal about government policy affecting the services we need to provide.

"If that's the case, I'm not going to apologise for that and indeed councils of all parties across local government are saying that."

It is feared by some backbenchers that the Government will intervene, sending in bureaucrats or commissioners to take over Birmingham City Council - putting it in the same bracket as notorious authorities like Tower Hamlets.

Asked if the Government would have to drag him out, he said "they may have to".

And on the question of whether he would work under a commissioner, he said: "It's not something I would relish but I have been very positive about the role the children's safeguarding and education commissioners played and can say that, with their help, we have moved those agendas on."

A key criticism, not least from Coun McKay, is that his leadership lacks vision - something he refutes.

He added: "I'm looking forward to a Birmingham which is successful, a Birmingham where more jobs are being created and where we drive up skills so more Birmingham people get those jobs, a Birmingham which continues to drive up education in the city, a Birmingham which looks after vulnerable children and provides for much of the leisure and cultural activity people want from its city council - that's the future and one we are committed to delivering."