A Government official appointed to oversee the Freedom of Information Act is to rule on Birmingham City Council's demand for £9,000 to release details of taxi and first class train journeys made by staff and councillors.
The Information Commissioner Richard Thomas will consider an appeal by The Birmingham Post against the council's insistence on payment to cover the cost of staff time taken to research travel bills.
The council's corporate governance and information manager Mal Thiarai admitted the local authority had no central system to collate information about train and taxi fares.
Mr Thiarai added: "Whilst we would be able to determine the number of first class rail journeys purchased by travel requisition warrants for 2005, any further details would need to be obtained from the actual paper forms requisitioning the tickets."
The only way the council would be able to respond to The Post request would be to search all travel requisition warrants for 2005 within each department, identify whether he warrant was for a first class ticket, and then identify the officer concerned, the destination and cost, Mr Thiarai added.
Tony Lennox, acting editor of The Birmingham Post, said the Information Commissioner would be asked to rule that the city council was at fault.
Mr Lennox said: "Details of spending on travel by a local authority are of obvious public interest and ought to be freely available. The media cannot be held to blame because Birmingham City Council has no proper system of recording journeys by staff and councillors."