CHANGES to communications at City of York Council could make the authority less accountable, according to one councillor.

The council's executive was expected to consider changes to the Marketing and Communication Group today.

Officers were to recommend scrapping the council's newspaper, About York and replacing it with an A4 newsletter covering both city-wide and ward news every three to five weeks. Labour leader Coun Dave Merrett said the replacement would cover only a quarter of the city-wide information produced in About York and be out of date by the time it was delivered.

He also objected to the proposal that council staff should make policy announcements rather than members of the executive.

"Politicians are the ones making the big decisions on the council and they should be the ones explaining these decisions in council press releases," he said.

But deputy leader of the council, Andrew Waller, said council officers would only deal with fact and points of information.

"Executive members themselves will explain policy, not press officers. The previous administration expected council officers to do their spin for them."

He said the new newsletter would be more efficient than having separate newsletters for both ward news and city-wide news.

The executive could also decide to cut funds to the council's press office leaving it with one press officer and no emergency cover. This would save the authority £18,000 a year but officers were expected to recommend members take into account the necessity of providing full coverage, including evenings and weekends.

Updated: 11:09 Tuesday, October 21, 2003