“PROPAGANDA” council magazines produced with £300,000 of taxpayers’ cash are to be merged in a cost savings move.

The five magazines will be slimmed down from a total 120 pages to 32 under the pilot, which would slash copies from 406,000 to 200,000.

The idea will be trialled next year for four issues and will feature Buckinghamshire County Council information along with either news from Wycombe, Chiltern, South Bucks or Ayelsbury Vale district councils.

Savings have not been estimated for the move, part of a the “Pathfinder” cash savings drive to merge services between councils in Buckinghamshire.

Council leaders said the magazines were needed get out information about council services – but the TaxPayers’ Alliance’s Marc Wallace hit out.

He said: “The proposals might save a bit of money but it would be much better to scrap these magazines altogether.

“People don’t pay their taxes for propaganda and glossy literature telling them how great the council is.”

Yet County council deputy leader Bill Chapple said residents valued its 28-page quarterly Buckinghamshire Times publication.

The latest issues offers a page on “our successes in 2008/09”, a history of local government and an interview with county celebrity Johnny Ball who describes opposition to council incinerator “utterly false” and the plan “green and efficient”.

And in his introduction, leader David Shakespeare warns of Government under-funding and says: “To be honest, our task over the coming years is simply to do the best job we can with the inadequate funds at our disposal.”

The authority this year raised its share of the council tax by 3.7 per cent, giving it £1,056.61 from an average band D property.

What do you think? Download the magazines here. For the county magazine click here, for the Wycombe magazine click here, for the Chiltern magazine click here, and for South Bucks click here. (pdf files).

Cllr Chapple told Bucks Free Press: “We are a form of newspaper, we are more than that because we are giving out first-hand information from the providers to the people who are the customers.”

He said: “It must be more cost effective and cut a lot of the duplication.”

A statement from Wycombe District Council, which publishes “Community Voice”, said authorities were “committed” to merging services to save cash.

It said: “We anticipate that this project will result in cost savings for each council.”

It said: “However, as we are in the very early stages of this project and we are about to enter the tendering process for the production of this magazine, we are unable to provide more specific information about the production costs or potential cost savings.”

Chiltern District Council leader John Warder said: “We need to keep the communication with our electors but we need to do it as economically as possible.”

A survey found 45 per cent of readers thought the “Chiltern Chronicle” was “rubbish” he said and, while information was on the council’s website, many residents did not have a computer.

“There are a group of people who say they are quite useful,” he said.