With a deft bit of timing to take advantage of the post-Munich (and hopefully Albania) football euphoria, Birmingham - in fact Solihull - is bidding to build a national stadium, with a little bit of help from the new sports wing of Arup - Arup Sports. And the bid is finding favour in Whitehall - PM Tony Blair not wanting any more building projects going over budget. But Astragal hears that Ken Livingstone, who has been fervently backing the rival bid for it to be built in Wembley, his old stamping ground as an MP for Brent East, will be inspecting the second city's proposal more closely than he might otherwise have done. The reason? The site in question is green belt and ecologists are poring over it at the moment, a project source tells me, to make sure there are not rare breeds. 'Finding protected species like great crested newts would not be what we want, ' he tells me.
Triturus cristatus have defied their sizes and held up many a building project - and Livingstone is a big newt fan.