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THE Conservatives were accused of “scamming” voters today by sending unpaid mail that appeared to be official NHS letters but turned out to be Tory pre-election PR.
Douglas Smith from St Albans was charged £4 by the Royal Mail to collect two letters on Thursday which had been sent to him and his partner.
He claimed that the NHS logo was visible through the transparent envelope windows and Mr Smith said he thought they were notifications of hospital appointments.
But the businessman said he was “disgusted” to open the letters and find that they were mailshots from the Tories asking for voters’ opinions on the NHS.
The letters, which he picked up from his local Royal Mail office after paying a fee, have stickers on the envelopes stating that recipients must pay £2 to collect each letter.
The Royal Mail’s website states that this fee is applicable if no postage was paid at all.
Rebecca Lury, Labour’s candidate in St Albans, said it was “offensive” that the Conservatives are leaving voters to foot the bill for unknowingly receiving their PR material.
She said: “We’re becoming used to spectacular and insensitive own-goals from the Conservatives — Jacob Rees-Mogg set a high bar with his recent comments on the Grenfell fire.
“But to send out a mailshot without even paying the postage on it, causing inconvenience to numbers of voters district-wide who will make an unnecessary trip to the sorting office and pay for the privilege of receiving it, is beyond insensitive — it’s offensive.”
The letter, which includes a questionnaire and bears PM Boris Johnson’s digital signature, says: “Help us make our NHS even better.
“We’re investing billions of pounds extra in our NHS. So why not help decide where the money should go?”
Both the Conservative Party and the St Albans Conservative Association failed to respond to the Morning Star’s requests for comment.
The news emerged as the Tories were questioned on extravagant promises to improve the NHS if they are elected in the December 12 general election.
On Friday they promised that 50 million more GP surgery appointments will be created every year under a Conservative majority government with the help of a recruitment boom.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that the party wants to train 500 more GPs each year from 2021-22 — bringing the total in training to 4,000 — while the Tories have pledged to recruit 6,000 more people into the non-GP workforce.
But Mr Hancock was forced to admit that a previous Tory pledge to recruit 5,000 GPs by 2020 had not been met.
And Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s promise of a new “NHS visa” was slammed as being “full of holes” by Diane Abbott on Friday.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said of the supposed hiring boost: “This will be the same Conservative Party that promised 5,000 more GPs. And do you know what? The numbers went down by 1,600.
“You can’t trust the Tories on the NHS.”
Chair of the St Albans Conservative Association Claudio Duran told the Star the letters were posted by accident and apologised.
”I can confirm that letters posted in error,” Mr Duran said.
“It's my mistake, I asked my son to deliver some letters in Marshalswick. He misunderstood me and thought I had asked him to post them as they were in envelopes and address to some people.
“I apologise for that mistake. I have offered to reimburse the cost of the postage to those affected. I will be speaking to the post office tomorrow to sort this out so members of the public don't have to pay the extra charge.”
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