Officials and members of Birmingham City Council have been told they must use cut-price rail saver tickets after it emerged the local authority is spending #6,000 a week on train fares.

Financial watchdogs ordered a clampdown amid concern that the cost of councillors and senior officers using the trains is spiralling out of control.

Two-thirds of journeys made during 2005 on council business were to London according to a memo from corporate finance director Brendan Arnold, obtained by The Birmingham Post.

Mr Arnold, who wants the council's annual #300,000 rail fare bill to be cut by #50,000, pointed out that an open return ticket to London costs more than #100.


More than a third of women and a quarter of men in the Midlands suffer from some sort of bladder problem yet are too embarrassed to seek help, according to one of the region's leading urologists.

Incontinence, prostate problems and kidney stones can cause chronic pain as well as embarrassment but many patients choose to suffer in silence.

In an attempt to help people address the problems, Zaki Almallah has opened the first private dedicated bladder clinic in the West Midlands.

Mr Almallah pioneered the use of botox - commonly associated with cosmetic surgery - in the treatment of incontinence and overactive bladders.


Protesters angry at plans to build houses next to a Birmingham beauty spot held a demonstration in the city.

More than 40 members of residential and wildlife groups in Edgbaston met in front of Birmingham Council House, holding banners which read, "Say no to Edgbaston reservoir flats."

Corinne Bateman, a member of the Friends of Edgbaston Reservoir action group, said the peaceful protest attracted attention from passers-by.

The 66-year-old retired teacher said: "It went well. We were particularly pleased with the reaction from the public.


Economic growth in the Black Country over the next 25 years will trigger significant expansion in retail provision with the construction of four huge shopping centres, each one the size of Birmingham's Bullring.

The forecast is contained in a development strategy drawn up by the Regional Planning Body.

RPB members suggest in their Black Country Study that consumer spending on shopping in Wolverhampton, Walsall, West Bromwich and Merry Hill will rise by 300 per cent by 2031, leading to demand for a 400,000 square metre increase in shopping floorpsace.

However, the figures are based on assumptions that the Black Country population will rise sharply and that income levels will increase to national average levels.

See Thursday's Birmingham Post for more on these stories