Camden Council, in London, says it is spending the cash on its Love Camden site, which features listings and rundowns about the best coffee shops and bars in the borough.
Love Camden was launched six years ago and currently gets an average of 31,000 page views a month.
The Labour-run council has insisted it is not attempting to “rival” any other media in the area – but opposition Tory councillor Oliver Cooper has accused it of “cannibalising our independent local press.”
Cllr Cooper, pictured above left, told the Camden New Journal: “Camden Labour needs to stretch taxpayers’ money as far it can go. Like the costly and under-read Camden magazine, this seems to duplicate our excellent local papers, whose print editions and sites are packed with culture listings.”
He added: “Love Camden is a great service but £60,000 will seem eye-wateringly expensive to duplicate our local press, especially while Camden Labour cut services, hike taxes and increase councillors’ pay.
“I’ve commissioned web redesigns, and high-performance, professional bespoke websites rarely come in at more than £15,000.
“Camden must make sure it’s getting value for money and not sign on the dotted line until and unless the administration has ensured the work can’t be done cheaper elsewhere and isn’t just cannibalising our independent local press.”
But Cllr Abdul Hai, the authority’s culture chief, insisted the Love Camden site was a “popular way of reaching both visitors and residents”.
He said: “Technology has moved on since the site was launched in 2010 and it has become outdated and lacked functionality. Some organisations fed back that they weren’t using the site for these reasons.
“The new site better represents our borough, its organisations and events and why people should visit. It also allows us to generate income through sponsored content, which we project will pay for the redesign cost within three years.”
Asked by the CNJ whether Camden would be competing for the same marketing budgets as local papers, Cllr Hai added: “It wasn’t created to rival other media and to that regard we would happily both work with and profile local media outlets on the site, should they wish.”
The CNJ has not responded to requests for further comment.