South Gloucestershire Council has come under fire after spending £30,000 on a magazine to highlight some of the council’s priorities for the next four years.
Households across the district will have received a copy of South Gloucestershire News (SGN) through the letterbox in recent weeks.
The authority scrapped its council magazine years ago, as a result of budget pressures.
But following the local elections in May, the Conservative-run administration decided to produce a “one-off” edition to help inform residents about what the new council has planned for the next four years.
The 16-page newsletter cost £14,020 to print the newsletter and another £23,979.58 to deliver it 119,000 households across South Gloucestershire.
The council made £7,400 in advertising income, leaving a net cost of £30,599.58 – around 26p per copy.
(Image: South Gloucestershire Council)
A spokesperson for the council said: “While we are always keen to ensure we deliver value for money in the way we communicate, and we continually review our approach in order to reduce and minimise costs, we will also invest where there are important messages for local residents.
“Following the elections we felt it was appropriate to let residents know about their new council and councillors, as well as about key developments across important issues including education, safety, environment, investment and jobs and the work we are doing across the district to deliver on our priorities to ensure South Gloucestershire is a great place to live and work.
“Wherever we can, we prioritise digital communications, which costs council taxpayers much less than print, however we recognise that many residents are not ‘digital citizens’ and have taken this opportunity to update residents on our work and to direct them to lower-cost ways of keeping in touch and up to date with us.”
But the cost of the project has raised some eyebrows amongst some local residents and opposition councillors who have dubbed it “a blatant waste of public funds”.
The Liberal Democrat Group at the council has said it would be calling on the Audit Committee to look into the decision.
Lib Dem leader Claire Young said: “I couldn’t believe it when the magazine came through my letterbox.
“Local residents have told me that they thought it was a Conservative Party leaflet, because it featured so many photographs of Toby Savage.
“They were angry to realise that they were paying for it out of their council tax.
“After investigating the matter, we discovered that the cost of the magazine was around £32,000 – the equivalent of the annual council tax bill of 18 households.”
There is also a digital version of the newsletter available on the council’s website.