Chancellor Gordon Brown is banking on a strong economic bounce back after admitting that the economy had endured its "toughest and most challenging year".
In his annual Pre-Budget Report, the Chancellor was forced to slash his growth forecast for the current year to just 1.75% compared to the buoyant 3% to 3.5% he was predicting just eight months ago in the Budget.
Mr Brown blamed a "virtual doubling" of world oil prices for the difficulties the economy had encountered.
And he sought to sweeten the pill with a #2 billion raid on the profits of the North Sea oil companies to fund a package of assistance for pensioners while enabling him to freeze duty on petrol and diesel.
A Christmas ice rink in Birmingham city centre is operating without planning permission.
The T-Mobile rink, which will be in Centenary Square until the middle of January, is the centrepiece of the city council's festive entertainments package and has already attracted hundreds of visitors.
Although customers have been skating since the rink opened on November 25, a council committee will not consider a planning application from the city centre management company until this Thursday.
A council spokeswoman insisted there was nothing unusual about the delay: "Under the General Permitted Development Order, T-Mobile Street Ice can be in-situ for up to 28 days before a planning application is required. The planning application for this attraction is therefore well within the required time limit."
A series of Christmas strikes at Birmingham International Airport have been called off after union leaders agreed to binding arbitration.
Eight 12-hour stoppages - due to start this Thursday and including Christmas Eve, Boxing Day and New Year's Eve - would have grounded all flights and the airport was in the process of organising diversions to rival airports such as Manchester, East Midlands and Coventry.
The move represents a U-turn by Amicus, which turned down the airport's offer of binding arbitration last month before its 200-strong BIA membership was balloted on industrial action.
The dispute centred on the sacking of two security workers for unauthorised absences and falsifying attendance reports.
A #12 million park at Birmingham Eastside could open by 2009 - if the city council wins the National Lottery.
The council does not have enough of its own money to build the eight-acre park and is relying on a bid to the Living Landmarks lottery fund for a #9 million contribution.
The new fund has #25 million to give to inspirational regeneration projects in the West Midlands.
If the bid fails, the council will attempt to secure funding from other sources and in that case the park would have to be constructed in phases over a number of years.
The council cabinet will next week signal the start of an international design competition for Birmingham's first city centre park for more than 100 years.
A councillor has called on health bosses to think again after controversial plans to build a new hospital block in Moseley were agreed.
The plans for a 63-bed building and outpatients' facility at Moseley Hall Hospital have been given the go-ahead by Birmingham City Council's planning committee for the second time.
Residents had forced Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Trust to revise their plans after they succeeded in obtaining a judicial review on a previous decision to grant approval.
However, Coun Barry Henley (Lab Moseley and Kings Heath) said there was little difference between the two plans.
He has called on council chiefs to allay the fears of residents that the new facility will be out of keeping with the Grade ll listed Moseley Hall and the local conservation area.
See Tuesday's Birmingham Post for more on these stories