Birmingham's Olympic pool: strong on hype, short on facts
Labour had its B-team out to argue the toss over plans by the ruling Tory-Lib Dem coalition on Birmingham Council to build an Olympic swimming pool and refurbish two existing pools at a cost of ÃÂ£85.5 million.
Even the laziest, second-rate politician ought to be able to poke holes in such a proposition given that the council admits it has no idea where it will get the money from to deliver the project or how it will be able to afford to run the 50 metre pool complex.
But Labour's less than dynamic duo at a scrutiny committee, Muhammad Afzal and Gurdial Singh Atwal, failed abysmally.
Coun Atwal had nothing to say on the subject, preferring to leave the talking to his colleague.
Coun Afzal chuntered on about a "lack of consultation with the relevant stakeholders".
A third Labour councillor, Gill Beddows, who was supposed to be present, decided to go on holiday.
Ray Hassall, the Lib Dem cabinet member for leisure, sport and culture, was in overdrive.
Words tumbled out, arms flailed, he gave a passable impression of performing the butterfly stroke in his new, shiny swimming pool.
And as Hassall proceeded, the scale of the project grew ever more magnificent.
There would be a massive fun pool, and a railway station. It would have scary rides that only teenagers would dare use. The fun pool, that is, rather than the station, although you can never be quite sure with Coun Hassall.
Labour's sad crew couldn't be bothered to ask any questions, but it quickly emerged that the station scheme is yet to make it outside of the inner recesses of Coun Hassall's brain. Discussions have not actually been held with Network Rail, or with anyone else, it is simply an aspiration.
And as for the ÃÂ£85.5 million, this is merely an indicative figure which needs to be "boiled down".
Coun Hassall is under orders to go away and return to the cabinet in September with a business plan showing how the swimming strategy can be delivered. Significantly, he has been told by council leader Mike Whitby to cut costs wherever possible.
The aim is to get the back-of-the-envelope jottings revised by striking better deals with builders who, it is supposed, will be desperate for work in these difficult times.
"It may be we will have to build our way out of the slump. It's no good saying we can't afford to do something, it is time to say we have the confidence to give this city what it deserves," Hassall added, triumphantly.
Yes, Ray, quite so. But, in my nit-picking old-fashioned way, I'd quite like to know where the money is coming from?