Birmingham Forward has cut its losses and hopes to go back into profit this year.

The lobby group was £12,521 in the red for 2005 against £87,186 in 2004 on turnover of £472,387, up from £389,743.

The improvement came as the organisation survived the Andrew Sparrow affair when the lawyer and deputy chairman was forced out in a row over his criticism of Birmingham City Council leader Mike Whitby.

It was a crisis for Birmingham Forward as high profile members, believed to include accountants KPMG and lawyers DLA, threatened to quit if Mr Sparrow remained.

In fact, as of this month, membership figures are up, to 243 from 221 a year ago.

Birmingham Future, the sister body for young professionals, did even better, hitting 489 from 385.

But two years of losses have hurt.

Birmingham Forward's reserves, which had tumbled from £131,910 to £44,724 in 2004, have now slumped to £32,203.

2004's appalling figures were the result of bad debts, a payoff to departing executive director Lorraine Francis, the costs of interim chief executive Charles Smith, and lower event income.

This year's loss is being put down to the capital costs of a new web site.

Chief executive Simon Murphy, who subsequently took over but who leaves in June to become project director for the City Region proposition, said the events programme now tended to be overbooked.

Membership had been going well. Mr Murphy said: "We are very happy with the position for 2006.

"We are working closely with the members to give them events they need and want. We are looking to trade at a profit."