Local Liberal Democrat councillors have been inundated with angry messages from residents after South Gloucestershire’s Conservative administration spent £32,000 of council money on a 16-page magazine to be sent to households across South Gloucestershire promoting Toby Savage and other local Tory politicians.
Lib Dem Council Group 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 £32,000 – the equivalent of the annual council tax bill of 18 households. The magazine features no fewer than five publicity photographs of Cllr Savage, costing the taxpayer over £6,000 per photo. He clearly thinks he’s worth it!
“How on Earth can Cllr Savage possibly justify spending thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money to feed his own ego at a time when he is cutting funding for things like Social Services? The Conservatives can’t find enough money to fix our roads or to deliver their long-broken promise to cut green bin charges, but apparently, they can find money for this. Conservative councillors can now look forward to answering some very difficult questions from their residents, thanks to their leader’s thirst for self-promotion at public expense.”
Lib Dem Resources Spokesperson Mike Drew said: “The council’s own figures show that public satisfaction with the council fell this year following Toby Savage becoming leader. It’s not hard to see why when they waste money on things like this! Like most councils, South Gloucestershire Council scrapped its council magazine years ago, due to the increased pressure on local government budgets. Back then the Conservatives were among the fiercest critics of council magazines, with Communities Secretary Eric Pickles calling them a blatant waste of taxpayers’ money. Now the local Conservatives have brought the magazine back without a vote of Council or any consultation. Our inquiries show that they raided the council’s Financial Risk Reserve to pay for it – money that is supposed to be there to help the council through rainy days – not to act as a piggy bank for Conservative Party publicity material! It’s no wonder that social media is alight about this with angry messages from outraged local residents. We will be calling on the Council’s audit committee to look into this blatant waste of public funds.”