A council is being reported after being accused of misusing public funds for a leaflet against national park status for the South Downs.

An official complaint has been made to the District Auditor about a West Sussex County Council leaflet which, it is claimed, is too one-sided.

Labour-led Adur District Council said Tory-run West Sussex has misused funds to stir up opposition to the planned national park. County councillors could be forced to pay for the leaflet, Keep Planning Local, themselves if the complaint is upheld.

The leaflet has also been criticised by Green groups who said it contained "lies and misinformation".

Coun Nigel Sweet, Adur's deputy leader, said: "This leaflet is full of misleading statements about the extra protection a national park would give to the South Downs. West Sussex cannot be allowed to get away with spending public money to spread false information to support their own party political purposes."

He claimed county councillors were afraid of losing powers to a more democratic body putting environmental protection of the Downs first. He said: "In our own area we have seen the consequences of West Sussex being allowed to give itself planning permission.

"In Sompting, a massively extended and permanent refuse site on the Downs has been given the go-ahead against extensive opposition. Only the direct intervention of the Government can now stop it."

The document claims a new park will cost £3 million a year to run and planning alone will cost an extra £1million a year. A county council spokeswoman said: "The leaflet was put out as part of the county's public information service. It outlines concerns shared by the majority of councils affected by a national park in the South Downs."