In north Norfolk, they are calling it a Baker's Dozen...

The area's MP has been forced to apologise after a mass mail-out to constituents went spectacularly awry, with the same letter sent multiple times to the same people, some of whom received up to 12 copies.

Duncan Baker, a former sub-postmaster, blamed a "printing error" for the blunder which saw piles of the same correspondence build up on doormats across his constituency.

But voters and opponents have criticised him for a careless waste of taxpayers' money as well as paper.

Fakenham & Wells Times: The seven letters sent to North Walsham resident AnneThe seven letters sent to North Walsham resident Anne (Image: Supplied)

It isn't the first time the MP has got into difficulties with his post to constituents.

Last year he was ordered to repay £4,912.42 for misuse of House of Commons stationery after he sent out 6,838 newsletters to Cromer and Sheringham residents on a range of issues. Commons stationery can only be used for specific issues.

The letter involved in the latest mail mistake does at least relate to a single issue - three new hospital diagnostics centres being built in Norfolk over the next two years.

However, some recipients of the letters have questioned their relevance as none of the centres - at the Norfolk and Norwich, the Queen Elizabeth and the James Paget hospitals - are in Mr Baker's constituency.

Fakenham & Wells Times: North Norfolk MP Duncan BakerNorth Norfolk MP Duncan Baker (Image: Stuart Anderson)

Among those to receive several copies was Anne, from North Walsham.

She was sent the same letter seven times and posted about it on Facebook to see if others had been affected. One person replied to say they had received 12 copies.

"Someone from Duncan Baker's office phoned back to say it was a printing error," Anne said.

"They said they had seen my Facebook post and asked if I could take it down.  

"I was annoyed because it must have cost a lot of money to post the letters."

Fakenham & Wells Times: The seven letters sent to North Walsham resident AnneThe seven letters sent to North Walsham resident Anne (Image: Supplied)

 

Fakenham & Wells Times: Margaret Fiske, from North Walsham, received three lettersMargaret Fiske, from North Walsham, received three letters (Image: Supplied)

Margaret Fiske, also from North Walsham, received three copies of the letter. She described it as a "waste of paper, time and effort". 

Fakenham & Wells Times: Steffan Aquarone, the Liberal Democrats party prospective candidate for North NorfolkSteffan Aquarone, the Liberal Democrats party prospective candidate for North Norfolk (Image: Supplied)

Steffan Aquarone, the Liberal Democrat prospective candidate for North Norfolk, said: "I'm shocked at the waste of taxpayers' money that could have been spent on the real healthcare priorities for north Norfolk like NHS staffing and the lack of dentists." 

Mr Baker was a sub-postmaster at Budgens in Aylsham before becoming an MP.

His office declined to say how many letters, which were sent by second class, were posted or how much the blunder had cost.

A spokesman for Mr Baker's office said: "As a normal function of an active MP’s office, we regularly write to constituents about important issues that we think will help them.

"With a high number of older residents, many are not online to see social media and don’t take a newspaper, so the best way to ensure people are aware of highly important news, is to write to them directly. These letters are cleared with the Parliamentary authorities.

"In this case, the letter communication focused on the major announcement that Norfolk will soon benefit from three brand new diagnostic assessment centres, helping to cut waiting times and ensuring that constituents have the best possible healthcare provisions locally.

"We investigated this matter and found a small number of letters, mainly to the same area were duplicated due to a printer error. A handful of people have contacted the office to report that they received more than one letter, where they have received a full apology.

"Duncan’s office works exceptionally hard to help local residents. We apologise for any inconvenience caused to the small number of people affected."