RESIDENTS in Wickham have been left unimpressed and out of pocket after a candidate sent them his election material in the post using fake stamps.

The fake stamps were bought on Amazon and have left Winchester City Council candidate George Madgwick facing a bill of hundreds of pounds and the potential for ‘lost votes’ after their use was refused by Royal Mail.

About 200 letters promoting him were sent to postal voters in Portsmouth as well as in the Meon Valley using the first class stamps.

Hampshire Chronicle: George MadgwickGeorge Madgwick

Recipients were asked to pay £2.50 in unpaid postage fees to unknowingly collect the pamphlets.

Some have taken to social media to share their disapproval.

A member of Facebook group Wickham - A Hampshire Community said: "Lots of Wickham residents have had this. Won't be getting my vote."

Another added: "Doesn't promote confidence."

READ MORE: Portsmouth councillor George Madgwick defends decisions to stand for Winchester City Council elections

Another said: "Do not pay! I had one too! Sadly I paid £2.50 for the privilege of a pamphlet from this joker."

Mr Madgwick, a businessman who runs restaurants in Knowle and Cosham, has already attracted attention this election as he has been criticised for standing in two wards.

He is a current serving councillor in Paulsgrove for Portsmouth City Council but is now standing for election in the neighbouring Wickham and Southwick ward for Winchester City Council.

However, he was criticised by other candidates when he said that Paulsgrove would remain his priority if elected.

Mr Madgwick said the fake stamps had not been spotted when they were used as part of a group effort by the Portsmouth Independents Party to post more than 1,000 letters ahead of the postal voting deadline.

Hampshire Chronicle: The fake stampsThe fake stamps

Talking to the Local Democracy Service, he said: "They were bought on Amazon. The listing had good reviews and as far as we could tell, they were perfectly legitimate. They were even more expensive than they would have been at the Post Office.

"After we first noticed the issue we noticed there had been complaints in February that they were selling fakes and yet they were not removed.

"We contacted Amazon and I’ve been less than impressed with their response."

SEE ALSO: Who you can vote for in the Winchester election 2022 - full list of candidates

The stamps are still listed for sale by the retail giant with a rating of 4.6 stars out of five, although the majority of recent reviews raise issues with their legitimacy.

A spokesman for Amazon said the stamps had now been taken down from its website.

"The authenticity of products on our store is a top priority," they said. "We encourage customers with concerns to report them to us so that we can investigate and take action.

"Fewer than 0.01 per cent of all products sold on Amazon receive a counterfeit complaint but we won’t rest until that number is zero. The product in question has been removed and we have taken action against the seller."

The candidates in Southwick & Wickham for the May 5 election are:

Neil Cutler (Lib Dem)

George Madgwick (independent)

Sandy Phillips-Lee (Conservative)

Paul Sony (Labour)

Julia Stolle (Green Party)

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Kimberley Barber