Top Birmingham Labour politician Sir Albert Bore ran-up a #1,450 bill on his city council mobile phone in just six months - easily outstripping local authority colleagues.

The cost of Sir Albert's calls, from May to October, were ten times greater than Conservative council leader Mike Whitby, whose bill was #144.

The figures were provided to The Birmingham Post following a Freedom of Information Act request.

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Sir Albert, leader of the Labour opposition group, said the discrepancy could be explained by regular trips to Europe, where he is a member of the Committee of the Regions.

Mobile companies impose international roaming costs on calls from this country to UK mobiles in Europe. The practice means Sir Albert has to pay a premium every time he answers a call in Brussels.

Sir Albert (Lab Ladywood) said: "The problem is I have all these calls coming in and I have to answer them. They are then charged to me. The only alternative is to switch the phone off, but that would defeat the object of having one."

Bills for business calls by councillors with mobile phones for official duties are paid by the city council. Sir Albert said he made a contribution to reflect personal use.

The size of Sir Albert's bill is to be scrutinised by deputy council leader Paul Tilsley, who has responsibility for ensuring the local authority gives value for money.

Coun Tilsley (Lib Dem Sheldon) said it would be possible to provide Sir Albert with a Belgian sim card allowing him to receive UK calls without paying a premium rate.

Coun Tilsley added: "I will be exploring with Sir Albert the possibility of alternative arrangements to reduce the cost, while at the same time making sure he is in contact with the people he needs to be. It is perfectly simple. I visit Spain a lot but paid #30 for a Spanish sim card and my colleagues know to phone me on a different number when I am in Spain. We should not be pouring more public money into the vast coffers of Vodafone and other companies."

Most councillors make little use of their mobile phones.

Cabinet regeneration member Ken Hardeman ran up a #76 bill for six months, while the bill for housing cabinet member John Lines was #91.

Cabinet leisure, sport and culture member John Alden faced a bill of just one penny, while scrutiny committee chairman Ray Hassall did not use his.