An irksome Bell will fall silent at the end of this week in Birmingham – or at least that’s what paranoid councillors will be hoping.
David Bell, the Birmingham Mail’s no nonsense municipal editor, is to retire after more than 35 years with the newspaper.
During those years Bell – known as ‘Ding Dong’ – has been the constant bane of councillors of all parties, using his voluminous local government knowledge and remarkable list of contacts to uncover the darkest of their secrets.
He smokes like a chimney and drinks like a fish and is recognised as one of a kind – a final remnant of journalists of yore.
And to the envy of his colleagues, he operated from two offices. During the first part of the morning, he worked in the Mail offices in Weaman Street.
But from 10.31am most days, the timing being a throwback to old licensing hours, Ding-Dong moved to his “other office”, the Old Joint Stock opposite the city’s Cathedral, where a constant stream of councillors and contacts alike arrived to talk with him, sometimes queuing for their turn.
Even his news editor used the facility as the only place he could pin David down for his annual appraisals.
A blunt Northerner and fanatical golfer – who has had to bear the cross of supporting Hartlepool United – he has occupied virtually every role in newspapers during his long career, including one spell as women’s editor.
His final role on the council patch will be inherited by the Mail’s recently promoted local government correspondent, Neil Elkes. And Elkes’ best contact will be… Ding-Dong David Bell, who will continue as a freelance columnist and contacts factory for the Mail. So councillors won’t be able to rest easy.
David will hold court for his leaving do at the Old Joint Stock, Temple Row West, Birmingham city centre, from 5pm this Friday.
He is hoping former colleagues from near and far will join him. All are welcome – and he’s even persuaded the editor to stand the first round.