A district council in Buckinghamshire has banned its leaders from speaking to the local newspaper.
Aylesbury Vale District Council has banned its cabinet members and officers from talking to the Bucks Herald amid claims that the title does not print enough positive stories about it.
Instead the authority has told the Johnston Press owned paper and its sister paper the Bucks Advertiser it will only communicate with them through written statements approved by communications staff.
The Herald news team will hold a meeting with the council today in a bid to resolve the row.
A written statement from leader of AVDC John Cartwright said: “We are introducing this change to the way we provide quotes to the Bucks Herald because we have a number of ongoing concerns over the way in which stories relating to AVDC and Aylesbury are being reported.
“The Bucks Herald will continue to receive all our press releases and will be invited to media briefings and photo calls.
“It is not uncommon for local authorities to operate a centralised press office to handle media enquiries and requests for interviews.”
Mr Cartwright added that the council’s communications and marketing team will be issuing written responses to the paper’s questions.
In a separate email to the Herald a council offical hit out at a ‘perceived lack of support’ for the town and said there was a ‘constant flow of negative stories.’
In response to the claims, the Herald published an editorial branding the council’s tactics “clumsy” and reminiscent of “self-important football club chairmen.”
“The Herald will never act as a propaganda sheet for the council, whatever restrictions AVDC’s spin team may put in place. We will continue to ask probing questions on matters of public interest, and we will expect answers,” it said.
“Banning our reporters from speaking directly to cabinet members is a clumsy tactic and will do nothing to get their message across.
“It’s the sort of move often employed by self-important football club chairmen – until they realise they’re shooting themselves in the foot.
“We have, we’re told, shown a ‘perceived lack of support’ for development in the town, presumably by reporting that not everyone agrees with what the leaders say.”