IT’S an opportunity for MSPs to keep their constituents up-to-date with their work on behalf of the area.
But the taxpayer-funded “annual report” issued by Edinburgh Pentlands SNP MSP Gordon MacDonald is anything but up to date.
In the four-page leaflet, which was popping through letter boxes this week, he urges the public to respond to a consultation which ended in May, speculates about the minimum unit price to be set for alcohol even though it was officially announced nearly six months ago, and urges people to give their views on another consultation which closed in April.
Mr MacDonald’s report even managed to get the post code of his constituency office wrong.
And – incredibly – many of the wayward leaflets have been delivered to the wrong addresses.
He’s the MSP for Pentlands, but the leaflets have been dropped through doors of properties in the next door constituency of Edinburgh Southern.
Mr MacDonald’s annual report carries a strap line at the foot of the front page, which reads: “Keeping you up to date.”
Just above it, an item headed “Your Scotland, Your Referendum Consultation” says: “As an MSP I believe it is important to ensure you are informed about the consultation process and should you wish to participate please make your views known to the Scottish Government at the following link: www.scotreferendum.com or feel free to convey your views via myself.”
But anyone following that link now will find a message explaining the consultation ran from January to May 2012 and attracted more than 26,000 responses.
Inside, Mr MacDonald tells constituents: “I support the government’s proposal to set a minimum price for alcohol expected to be between 45-50p per unit.”
The then health secretary Nicola Sturgeon announced the 50p price on May 14.
And in another section, about proposals to tackle anti-social neighbours, Mr MacDonald says: “I urge as many people to take part in this consultation as possible as this affects so many people in our communities.
“The consultation will end on April 30 2012 and its outcome will inform recommendations on part of the content of a future Housing Bill.”
Political opponents said the mistakes were embarrassing. Lothians Tory MSP Gavin Brown said: “While we all make mistakes, when putting out something like this it would be good to get the odd accuracy in there too.
“This seems to be a political leaflet – paid for with taxpayers’ money – from a parallel universe.”
Another Holyrood political insider said it did not bode well if the MSP can’t get his address correct. The source said: “It’s paid for by the taxpayer, and began going through doors this week. It is absolutely littered with embarrassing mistake after embarrassing mistake.
“Not only that – it went through the wrong doors! He’s MSP for Pentlands, and it dropped through the doors of Edinburgh Southern.”
But a red-faced Mr MacDonald said it was all down to a delay in sending out the leaflets. He explained: “Unfortunately the report should have been delivered in this area back in March/April, but we were let down by the distributors.
“This was my first annual report and now that my staff and I have built up contacts to use in future we hope that this situation is now resolved for future editions.”
He said the postcode error arose because the constituency office was a derelict shop unit and he was initially supplied with the wrong postcode. And he said he was surprised the report had been delivered to any wrong addresses, but promised to take up the issue with the distribution company.
He said: “I’m glad to see that people are interested enough to read my annual report thoroughly! You may be interested to know I also have a monthly report sent by e-mail, a Facebook page, a Twitter account and website to update constituents.
“Close to 30,000 copies of the annual report have been delivered since March 2012 and, from memory, there has been only two complaints regarding content.”