Outgoing Birmingham City Council Leader Sir Albert Bore made an impassioned defence of the authority in the face of criticism from Whitehall and within the city.
In his first interview since announcing his resignation this week, the Labour leader denied the authority was "dysfunctional" and claimed progress had been made on education and the council's shameful child protection record.
While he will make way for a new leader in December, Sir Albert said he would not be "sailing off into the sunset", revealing he planned to at least see out his term as councillor for Ladywood until 2018.
Just hours after he confirmed he would be standing down, Sir Albert told the Post : "We're not a failing dysfunctional council and that needs to be said.
"We have taken child protection and done all we can to move that agenda forward, we have taken education and moved that forward."
The Ayrshire-born nuclear physicist has been a feature of Birmingham's political scene for more than 30 years.
However, pressure on his role - nothing new to him after annual leadership contests of late - became unbearable this week with two senior councillors departing and more making similar threats.
However, it has not been enough to deter the "great survivor" who said he still had political ambitions for the city.
He said: "I've been politically managing aspects of this council since 1984, that's a long time.
"I will be around, I don't intend to sail off into the sunset, not at all.
"There is a lot of ambition still within me and I can play that out in different ways rather than as leader of the council.
"That's what I intend to do. Translating those words into practical reality is another thing and that is the bit that I haven't thought through."
It is suggested there could be any number of suitable roles, perhaps dealing with city regeneration, transport and European relations which would suit him.
Or perhaps, after 35 years on the city council, a turn as Lord Mayor.
"What is it they say?" he said. "I'm not ruling anything in and not ruling anything out."
He insists his future is a matter for another day, once his successor is in post.
The regional Labour Party machine is now organising the leadership election, a process which involves the 78 Labour councillors meeting to vote in a secret ballot for their group leader who also becomes council leader.
Sir Albert hopes to be in a position to step down formally at the council meeting on December 1.
"I'm not immediately concerned with who the new leader will be, I am concerned I've left the city council in a good shape for that new leader to take forward," he added.
"The cabinet and myself will have our work cut out during October and November to get to that point."
Asked if he planned to back a candidate, he replied: "I will certainly not be doing that. It would be quite wrong of me."
In the meantime, he said it was business as usual for the council and he and his cabinet would be working on the long term budget consultation during October and November.
His answers to personal questions were brief and measured - some things would be best discussed after he moved on, he said.
But Sir Albert remains able to speak at great length about the huge financial challenges facing the council.
As a direct result of the Kerslake report, his cabinet is now drawing up a ‘2020 Vision' - a four-year project designed to plan ahead for the expected £250 million-plus austerity cuts over the period.
He and the cabinet have a series of public consultation events on this 2020 Vision lined up in November and he plans to go through with them - partly because the timetable leading up to the 2016/17 council budget will not allow for a break.
He was not keen to go into details about his last few days but suggested his future was something he had been considering - some have suggested his leadership has been under threat since Sir Bob Kerslake issued his highly critical review of the city council last December.
"It has been a lengthy, convoluted period for me but I have taken that decision and what I'm now trying to do is work through the ramifications of that decision."
The resignation also followed a period of extreme pressure, with the criticism of the Birmingham Independent Improvement Panel and fears over a boundary review which will cut the number of councillors, causing unrest in the ranks leading to the resignations of two senior colleagues.
But Sir Albert challenged the view that Birmingham City Council was the disaster it had been portrayed as.
Asked if he had any regrets over the way he had dealt with recent struggles, he said not.
"I've slept well every night," he added.
He received some criticism for being at a European Committee of the Regions Conference on Monday and Tuesday as his leadership crisis deepened.
He said he was perfectly able to consult with colleagues on the phone and confirmed he joined the cabinet via conference call for their meetings ahead of his resignation announcement.
"I had in my diary something I didn't want to break," he said.
"The council has properly functioned over the past few days, the Labour group has functioned over the last few days. The fact I was not in this office is neither here nor there."
Timeline of Sir Albert's life in Birmingham
- 1946: Born in Ayrshire, Scotland
- 1969: Moved to Birmingham to study doctorate in neutron reactor physics
- 1974: Became lecturer in nuclear physics at Aston University
- 1980: Elected councillor for Ladywood (currently longest continuous service in council). Gained a reputation as a left-wing firebrand
- 1984: Chairman of the economic development committee – brought in millions of pounds in European grants for "prestige projects" such as the International Convention Centre, the National Exhibition Centre, Brindleyplace and the Heartlands Spine Road
- 1986: Formed the Eurocities network with Barcelona, Frankfurt, Lyon and others
- 1987: Stood for Parliament in Selly Oak where he was beaten by Anthony Beaumont-Dark
- 1992: Joined the European Committee for the Regions (President in 2002-4)
- 1993: First stood for Labour leadership following retirement of Sir Richard Knowles. Defeated by Theresa Stewart, also removed as group secretary
- 1995: Cleared in messy court case of throwing coffee at his first wife, former city councillor Najma Hafeez
- 1999: Became leader of the Labour group and Birmingham City Council after seeing off rivals Theresa Stewart, Andy Howell and Marje Bridle. Plans for Millennium Point and Bullring regeneration under way
- 2002: Knighted for services to local government (see picture below)
- 2003: Loss of crucial seats due to Labour's role in Iraq war sees Sir Albert's minority administration propped up by opposition Tories who get committee chairs in return for support
- 2004: Despite leading largest single party, replaced as council leader by Mike Whitby and the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition. Fallout from vote fraud sees six inner city councillors sacked but Sir Albert is re-elected as opposition leader
- 2006: Became chairman of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (term ended in 2013)
- 2011: Announces intention to stand as elected mayor of Birmingham following referendum
- 2012: Decides to join Liam Byrne's mayoral bid, but contest is lost shortly afterwards when referendum rejects the mayor. Returns to the Council leader's office after eight years of opposition
- 2013: Takes on Coalition Government over austerity cuts warning of the "end of local government as we know it"
- 2014: Failure to turn round the ailing children's services department, the emergence of the Trojan Horse in schools scandal and the Kerslake review of Governance make this a year to forget
- 2015: Fallout from the Kerslake review, continued cuts and a boundary review which will see councillors lose their seats, all add to pressure on Sir Albert's leadership