A council has come under fire after appointing an advertising agency to sell space on its website.
The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead will allow companies to buy advertising on its website from June, after the move was approved by the council’s cabinet last month.
Wandsworth Council has also announced this week that it will also be accepting advertising on its website soon, with the aim of generating revenue to keep council tax down.
And at Slough Borough Council, the authority will continue publishing its Citizen newspaper six times a year, despite new government guidelines which were brought in saying there should be a four-a-year limit.
Ms Anderson said: “Local authorities must not use public funds to compete for readers and advertising with the only voices which can hold them to account – independent local newspapers and their websites.
“This would never be tolerated at a national level and should not be tolerated locally.
“The local media is reliant on advertising revenue to fund its journalism – revenue which has been under severe challenge as the industry fights its way out of the economic downturn.
“The local council should be supporting local businesses, not competing with them for vital advertising revenues. The reason the Government introduced the new Local Authority Publicity Code last month was to stop councils competing unfairly with local newspaper businesses.”
At the Royal Borough, an independent advertising agency will work on a commission basis and each advert will be vetted by a cabinet member to ensure it meets strict standards which have been brought in.
Anthony Kemp, director of resources at the authority, said: “We are not in any way seeking to emulate local newspapers which we fully support for their valuable and independent role in our community.”
Wandsworth Council says it also has strict guidelines on what kinds of advertising will be accepted, and an independent advertising representative will sell space on a commission-only basis, focusing on local companies.
And Slough council leader Rob Anderson said more than 90pc of residents found its Citizen publication useful for finding out about council services.
He said: “One of the main reasons for seeking to limit council publications is where they are in direct competition with local newspapers, but as the information in Citizen is different to that in local papers they complement rather than compete with each other.”