FIGURES released under a Freedom of Information request showed Gwent councils spent more than £200,000 a year on their own free newspapers.

Of the figures released to ITV under the Freedom of Information Act, Caerphilly had the highest annual spend at £81,770 a year. Caerphilly council says it has now reduced that to £50,000.

With that cut in Caerphilly, Gwent’s total would then stand at £180,000.

A spokesman for Caerphilly Council said: “As part of ongoing budget savings, it was agreed that the frequency of Newsline was reduced from six to four this year and the budget has reduced to £50,000.”

Monmouthshire spent nothing, as it dropped its Community Spirit news sheet in 2009.

Blaenau Gwent prints its magazine Connect four times a year, costing £23,200, Torfaen spends £32,157 a year on Torfaen Talks and Newport spends £53,237.24 on Newport Matters.

Newport pointed out that with income taken into account from avenues such as advertising, the net cost was lower, at £42,948.24, while Torfaen said the annual net cost was in the region of £20,000.

A Newport City Council spokeswoman said: “Our duty as a city council is not only to serve but to inform.”

Some criticised the spending on local papers, saying it would be better spent on frontline services.

Allt-yr-yn resident Nick Webb, 34, who receives Newport Matters, said: “I think it’s difficult to justify that level of expense on something that is essentially promotional material for the council.”

He added that councils could communicate their messages with the public by engaging with local newspapers and social media.

Meanwhile David Fouweather, leader of the opposition in Newport, said the budget for Newport Matters should be reduced.

He added: “That money could have been spent, for example, on saving the Handpost Library in my ward.”

But Cwmbran resident Samantha Williams praised her newsletter as a “good way to keep up to date.