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Maidstone Borough Council's junk mail error costs taxpayer thousands of pounds

Maidstone council has had to send out 84,000 letters – because of a clerical blunder costing taxpayers thousands of pounds.

A total of 42,000 letters were delivered at the start of last week informing people of a new voter registration system.

But they contained an error that meant people who had opted out of receiving junk mail were told they had signed up to receive such post.

The letters sent by Maidstone council
The letters sent by Maidstone council

The mistake means another 42,000 letters had to be sent out again.

A council spokesman confirmed the mistake would cost £12,600 to fix.

He said: "Hands up – we got it wrong. It was a mistake in the mail merge.

"It meant those residents who had previously opted out for not receiving junk mail, emanating from the register, were told they were ‘in’ and those happy to be left ‘in’ were told they were ‘out.’

"We are very sorry for the confusion and the waste caused by this mistake. We stopped the mailing as soon as it was spotted and we are writing with correct information and to apologise to everyone."

The council said no actual junk mail preferences were changed.

Our graphic shows how at least someone might be happy at the bungle
Our graphic shows how at least someone might be happy at the bungle

One resident affected said the mistake had caused many people great anger.

He said: "It was impossible to get through on the phone. There must have been a lot of people ringing in about the error they’d made."

Council officials were forced to apologise following a similar mistake in June.

Officers sent a letter to residents near Bluebell Wood, Allington, saying a controversial plan for 500 homes off Hermitage Lane would be recommended for approval. An amended letter sent the next day said it had in fact been recommended for refusal.

The Electoral Register is being updated ahead of next year’s general election.

It replaces the old system where the ‘head of the household’ registered everyone living in a property. Now, each individual will be responsible for registering themselves.

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