£20k on county leaflet branded a waste

COUNTY chiefs were criticised today for spending about £20,000 of taxpayers' cash on a leaflet promoting a single unitary authority for Suffolk.

Neil Puffett

COUNTY chiefs were criticised today for spending about £20,000 of taxpayers' cash on a leaflet promoting a single unitary authority for Suffolk.

Suffolk County Council has used the money to send leaflets to every household in the county, some 340,000 homes, in a bid to drum up support for a single council.

But some have criticised the decision, claiming the move is a waste of money.

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The county council leaflet, which claims a single unitary authority would cut costs, bears a boast that it cost 1p to produce - the equivalent of £3,400 for 340,000 copies.

The Evening Star discovered that the leaflets also cost around 5p each to distribute - around £17,000 in total.

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In comparison, Ipswich Borough Council spent £289 on 5,000 promotional leaflets regarding the unitary proposals, dropping them off in public buildings around the area to negate distribution costs.

Liz Harsant, leader of Ipswich Borough Council, said the county council is wasting money.

“I don't think it's necessary and it's unfair on the council tax payer,” she said.

“The money could be much better used.

“You can leave the leaflets in libraries and various places and people can pick them up if they are interested.”

A spokeswoman for Suffolk County Council said: “Each leaflet costs the taxpayer just 1p to produce - and is a small example of how efficient a single council for Suffolk would be, an entirely appropriate use of resources to meet the Boundary Committee's request.

“The information leaflet gives a summary of the facts and the issues at stake as we see them, and encourages people to respond to the consultation, whatever their views.

“This is a unique chance for local residents to influence what sort of council they will have for many years.”

The move to drum up support for a single council has been criticised for being at odds with proposals currently being considered by the Boundary Committee, the organisation overseeing the shake-up.

The committee wants to abolish the county council and Suffolk's seven districts and replace them with two unitaries - Ipswich-Felixstowe and Suffolk rural - with Lowestoft being absorbed into a single unitary for Norfolk.

What shape would you like Suffolk to take? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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