Cash-strapped Glasgow City Council could be about to bolster its public relations operation by handing a lucrative contract to an ex-BBC journalist.

Former political correspondent John Morrison is among the consultants contending for the chance to provide “independent analysis” of the local authority’s digital presence – which includes profiles on Twitter and Facebook.

Last year council leader Frank McAveety handed a well-paid senior special adviser job to another ex-BBC reporter, Bob Wylie, who was previously in charge of public relations at Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) during an expenses scandal.

It emerged in 2010 that officials had clawed back more than £100,000 and gone on foreign fact-finding trips. Mr Wylie later handed back expenses racked up during a junket to Manchester on the day Rangers played in the 2008 UEFA Cup final.

Sources claim the council’s public relations programme has been “floundering” recently and Mr McAveety is thought to be keen to “shore up” the operation.

A council spokesman confirmed that the local authority is “conducting a review of council communications, with special reference to developing digital communications”.

Mr Morrison, who runs a Glasgow-based public relations company, said: “They’ve spoken to me but there is nothing agreed.”

He later issued a statement which said: “Morrison Media Strategies is a communications and media training company. We have discussions with companies and organisations every day. We don’t talk about them.”

The decision to carry out a review comes two months after the council’s director of communications, Colin Edgar, was sidelined after ten years in the job.

Mr Edgar now has a similar role at arm’s length organisation Glasgow Life and many of his previous duties in the leader’s office have been taken on by Mr Wylie.

Leader of the SNP group at Glasgow City Council, Susan Aitken, said: “It would appear that Frank McAveety is considering shoring things up in an attempt to save his political skin at a time when staff working in frontline services are looking at significant post reductions.

“There is a recruitment freeze at Glasgow City Council so it’s simply not appropriate to be spending money on this, no matter how badly he and Bob Wylie might need help.”

Another SNP source, who asked not to be named, questioned the need for a review of digital communications.

“We’ve been doing digital communications for years so I can’t see what we need to do that we’re not already doing,” said the source.

“To me it’s a way to bring in extra resources to beef up Frank’s team at a time he’s floundering. It’s unjustifiable to spend money on that.

“Given the sensitivities around this, the council should go for full approval by a committee and a procurement exercise or it will look like they are trying to sneak it through under delegated powers.”

A council spokesman said: “The chief executive of the council is currently conducting a review of council communications, with special reference to developing digital communications.

“In this regard there have been discussions with a number of external consultants who could provide an independent analysis to complement the work being done. At this stage no external contract has been approved.”