Anger at £700 council planning reports mail bill

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PILES of planning documents were posted out by council chiefs at a cost of almost £700 – although they could have been dispatched by a courier company for a quarter of the price.

The bundles of reports and maps for the latest version of Edinburgh’s local development plan had to be sent to the 44 community councils across the city to get their views on the planning blueprint.

But Norman Tinlin, secretary of Fairmilehead Community Council, was shocked when the documents arrived in a torn brown envelope showing the price of postage as £15.85.

He said: “It’s a lot of money to spend on post, particularly when the council is pleading poverty. I can think of lots of things the council would be better spending the money on.

“They could have e-mailed us and told us they were at the library or the local office to pick up, or they could have got a council van to deliver them.”

Peggy Wright, secretary of Firrhill Community Council, was equally dismayed when she saw how much the postage was.

“It’s a huge cost to the council,” she said. “There must be a cheaper way to do it.

“It was a massive weight and it was in an ordinary plain brown envelope with one piece of parcel tape round the middle.

“It arrived in tatters. Royal Mail had had to repackage it in a plastic envelope with an apology. They had no need to apologise – if the council is spending all that money on postage, you would think they could get a proper envelope.

“These big booklets must have been very expensive to produce in the first place with their wire bindings and beautiful glossy pictures. This postage lark is the last straw.”

City Couriers gave a ballpark estimate of around £150 for next-day delivery of packages to 44 addresses across the city.

Tory councillor Jason Rust has written to officials, asking whether other ways of distributing the documents had been considered.

He said: While it’s important the community councils get the information, I share their shock at the amount of money spent on the postage when cheaper options were available.

“At a time of cutbacks it seems invidious to be spending so much on posting these documents.”

The council said the documents related to the second stage of the local development plan which was being published for a formal period of representations, running for six weeks from August 22 until October 3.

The documents had been posted first class by Royal Mail to all 44 community councils so they had the full six weeks to consider them and make representations.