CAMBRIDGESHIRE County Council has spent almost £9 million over five years on communications and marketing.

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The council has more than halved its spending on public relations over the same period - down from a £2,391,882 peak in 2009 to a projected £791,036 for this year.

New figures released after a Freedom of Information request show the authority cut back both its spending and its staff on its “spin” budget.

In 2007 the communications team was nine-strong but now has only seven members. The council said it expects to lose another member of staff by next year.

The top post, Head of Communications, remains vacant after Andy Allsopp left in January. It has a salary range of £50,000-68,000.

The figures released by the council also show the proportion of the spend allocated to advertising.

Of the £8,762,000 spent on communications and marketing since 2007, £6,381,000 was spent on advertising. Again, the budget has been cut dramatically from £1,890,000 in 2009 to only £500,000 in 2011.

The county council confirmed it does not use any external PR support.

The communications budget has been a bone of contention in the past as the Liberal Democrat opposition group sought to get the leading Tory group to reduce it.

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