The festive spirit was dampened by political infighting this week after a senior councillor was accused of using the public purse to help protect his own electoral prospects.

The leaflet, advertising a drop-in session tomorrow evening (December 19) invites residents to join Councillor Andrew Judge for a “pre-Christmas mince pie to find out more about what is going on in Merton High Street”.

As well as being Merton’s cabinet member in charge of regeneration strategy, Coun Judge is a Labour ward councillor for Abbey in South Wimbledon, for which he was elected in 2010 alongside two Conservative councillors.

Coun Henry Nelless, one of the Conservative councillors for Abbey, accused Coun Judge of using council resources to further his own political ambitions because he is not producing similar leaflets in Merton’s 19 other wards.

He said: "This is a complete and utter misuse of council taxpayer funds by Coun Judge.

"He is using taxpayer money to inflate and promote his own ego in a finely politically balanced ward.

“It's disgusting that Labour peddle the myth that they have no money in Merton, yet when it comes to doing something which will personally benefit them, then no expense is spared."

But Coun Judge said the leaflet is “proper and lawful” and accused the Conservatives of being “relentlessly negative”.

He said: “It is right that leaflets highlight those responsible for decisions so that residents know who has made them.

“In this case, I have driven forward the improvements and take full responsibility for them. I have no doubt that the Tories would be only too ready to highlight my name if anything were to go wrong."

A council spokeswoman said the cost of printing and distributing the leaflets cost £510 - or 26p per household.

She said: "This is a council event to tell residents about improvements we are making to Merton High Street. 

"It is important to inform local residents when changes are happening in their area and this leaflet was the most effective way to let residents know the date of the meeting within the time we had.”

The drop-in session, held at All Saints Church Hall in All Saints Road, is expected to feature more information about how nearly £3m will be spent over the next two years, thanks to funding from Transport for London.

The planned works include a new pedestrian crossing in Haydon’s Road, extending the cycle lane to South Wimbledon from the Cycle Super highway, planting new trees and rebuilding pavements.