The leader of Birmingham City Council was accused yesterday of ignorance in the row over funding a heritage museum in a Welsh valley flooded to provide water to the city.

Councillor Mike Whitby (Con Harborne) has ruled out the city's financial support for the Elan Valley scheme, despite claims by campaigners that Birmingham has a historic responsibility to the region.

During a meeting of the city council on Tuesday, Coun Whitby instead suggested Severn Trent should provide a "very generous donation" rather than the authority.

But campaigners yesterday said the Birmingham-based water company had already pledged money to their cause.

"He has made that statement in ignorance," said Peter Cox, chairman of Community Arts Rhayader and District and leader of the campaign group.

"Severn Trent has been good enough to agree to a substantial donation some weeks ago.

"If Mr Whitby had checked with us before making that statement, he would have found we already have a relationship with Severn Trent that we are quite happy with."

About 110 square miles of the Elan and Claerwen valleys, 70 miles from Birmingham, were flooded to build a reservoir to supply fresh water to the city. More than 100 people living in the Elan Valley were forcibly evicted.

Severn Trent took over responsibility for the reservoir and pipes transporting the water in 1974.

Last week Lord Mayor of Birmingham Coun John Hood met a delegation from Wales and agreed to personally donate #101 reflecting the timespan the city has taken water from the valley. He also agreed to set up a public subscription fund for the public and businesses to donate towards the museum.