Cakes and Biccies for Boys in Iraq - but Is It Legal Mr Ahmad? AGENDA

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Byline: Paul Dale

It's the ultimate sacriace, but someone had to do it.

Three Tory councillors have decided, selfiessly, to forgo the famously caloriac high-tea at full meetings of Birmingham City Council so Our Boys serving Queen and country in Iraq and Afghanistan can beneat.

Matt Bennett, Gareth Compton and Peter Smallbone have written to the Lord Mayor asking the pounds 14-per-head cost be donated to the 26th Regiment Royal Artillery. In a year the total would be pounds 420.

Compton said: "The meals are prepared whether or not we eat them. It seems sensible to provide some kind of opt out to save food and money. I can't think of a more deserving cause than British troops on the front line".

Quite so, although the gesture may stretch the imagination of council accountants. Is it possible, or even legal, to take public funds from the council hospitality budget and hand the money to the armed forces, however deserving?

A decision, I expect, for council chief legal officer Mirza Ahmad, who will no doubt be called upon to pronounce.

On the subject of Mirza, word reaches me he now employs no fewer than four PAs to run his fast-expanding empire.

Seems a bit on the low side. You'd have thought ave or six, at least, would be appropriate for such a powerful agure.

A vote-rigging scandal has disturbed the rareaed atmosphere of Birmingham Forward, the lobby group representing professional services.

The achingly on-message organisation decided to do its bit by holding an e-poll among its members on whether the Central Library should be granted immunity from listing, thereby making it easy for the local authority to demolish.

Predictably, 62 per cent voted in favour of the sending the bulldozers in. Or did they? Rumours circulated among the Colmore Row wine bars and restaurants the result didn't reflect the actual votes cast and 74 per cent of those taking part were in favour of listing with 25 per cent against. …