Medway Matters is delivered to 115,000 households every two months and carries information about council meetings, developments and campaigns.
But political opponents say it reprints word-for-word press releases glorifying the council and its Conservative leaders, while glossing over failings and controversies.
The comments echo local government secretary Eric Pickles, who has repeatedly attacked such magazines – calling them “town hall Pravdas” in tribute to Pravda, the infamous propaganda sheet of the Soviet Communist party.
Cllr Tristan Osborne (Lab)
Labour parliamentary candidate for Chatham Tristan Osborne used Freedom of Information laws to establish how much Medway Matters costs.
Some £164,000 was funded directly by Medway Council between 2010 and 2013, much of it from selling advertisements to other departments.
External advertising contributed £179,000 – but among those advertisers were eight publicly-funded bodies including the NHS, universities, Rainham School for Girls, the Kent & Medway cancer network and the Medway stop smoking service. External advertising has also declined each year.
Cllr Osborne said: “There’s been concern expressed about the content of the magazine being very biased towards the cabinet and also the magazine is in breach of local government best practice.
“They’re supposed to be doing it quarterly but there’s six magazines a year.
“Why do they have to be doing it so many times a year?
“It’s also hurting the local press and others with the number of times it gets put out.
“There should be a lot more content around community groups – football teams for example, what’s happening in the area –rather than just printing verbatim press releases from the council’s website.”
Deputy council leader Alan Jarrett (Con) said Medway Matters was an important community asset, adding: “The magazine is not politically biased and merely shows whom the executive members and therefore budget holders of the council are.”
He added: “Public sector bodies are keen to advertise within Medway Matters as it is an established publication read by 65% of Medway residents and negates the need to publish their own separate magazine.”