New figures revealed Wandsworth Council spent more than £600,000 on its communications department last year.

The data shows the council shelled out £262,000, in 2011-12, running its press office compared to £220,000 in 2010-11 – an increase of 19 per cent.

It also spent a further £36,000 on its monthly magazine Brightside last year, although that equates to a 50 per decrease on the previous year.

Graphics, printing costs and salaries for the communications department came to £373,000, taking the grand total for running the press office, communications team and monthly magazine in 2011-12 to £671,000.

The overall costs have come down significantly compared to the previous year, when the council spent £523,500 on communications, £220,000 on its press team and £73,500 on Brightside, totalling £817,000.

The findings, which were obtained under the Freedom of Information Act (FoI), come at a time when the local authority is battling to reduce its budget by £15m by 2014 plus an extra £20m by 2015.

A further FoI request has revealed the top 500 websites accessed by council staff at their work computers between August 2012 and December 2012.

Google was the most accessed, with 17.8m clicks, while social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter were visited 819,000 and 1.9m respectively.

Music website Shogun Audio was frequented 3.34m times, sci-fi website Den of Geek received more than 58,335 requests while Find My Past was accessed nearly 80,000 times.

Elsewhere Speedtrap, which helps road users avoid getting caught speeding, received 77,000 visits.

The Wandsworth Guardian website was 160th most visited site with 196,000 visits.

A spokesman for the council said: “These figures show we have one of the lowest cost communications teams in London which is what our residents would expect from the council with the country’s lowest average council tax and that the cost is continuing to fall.

“We have cut management costs by sharing our Head of Communications post with neighbouring Hammersmith and Fulham Council and halved the cost of our residents’ magazine.

“Without this team, we would not have the resources to answer all Wandsworth Guardian’s questions about council decisions and services.

"We have a tight internet access policy in Wandsworth which means no inappropriate sites form part of this list.


"Staff are allowed to view mainstream internet sites outside normal working hours at no additional cost to the taxpayer."