St Helens Council has apologised after residents received duplicate letters informing them of its intention to publish names and addresses as part of the Local Plan examination process.
More than 2,000 comments, or representations, were received by the council when it published the ‘submission draft’ version of the Local Plan earlier this year.
New national guidance published in June 2019 confirms that all representations received must be published as part of the examination process without names or addresses of respondents being redacted.
This also means representations submitted without these details will not be considered by the planning inspector.
Subsequently, the council has been writing to residents who made representations about the implications of the new guidance.
However, due to the way records of representations have been kept, residents been receiving multiple duplicate letters.
Wendy Hill said her household received 10 letters in total.
Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, Mrs Hill said: “Having already stated on the representation form that email was my preferred method of contact, I was somewhat bemused to then receive 5 letters – all exactly the same, on the same day – along with hubby who also received 5.
“So, 10 letters to same address and an email – all covering the same topic.
“I believe it is a completely unacceptable level of waste and certainly not doing anything to help the climate emergency motion recently passed.”
Among friends and neighbours, Mrs Hill, who lives in Garswood, said there has been a varying level of duplication, with neighbours receiving two letters each and two emails, while some friends have received nine copies and one email.
A number of residents took to social media to report receiving duplicate letters such as Adam Wilson, who said he received five letters and Marlene Downey, who said she received four letters and two emails.
“There is an element of disbelief at the amount of money and resources that are being wasted,” Mrs Hill said.
“There is an additional concern in that, how can the general public be assured that everyone who needed to receive a copy of the letter has done so, or has the duplicated letters been at other’s expense? It’s mind boggling.”
A St Helens Council spokesman said the error has affected residents who made more than one representation during the publication period.
The spokesman said: “Throughout the Local Plan process we have received thousands of responses and in some cases one person may have made separate representations, which have all been stored individually.
“Due to an important change in national guidance we felt we needed to act quickly to inform everyone who had taken part in the consultation of the changes.
“This meant that unfortunately some people would have received more than one letter detailing this change due to their records being stored on more than one occasion.
“We apologise for any duplication of letters that people may have received and we will be taking steps to try to reduce the possibility of this happening in future.”
All representations received by the council, including full names and addresses, will be published on its website.
Anyone who does not want their details published need to contact St Helens Council by Friday, October 18.