"WHOEVER organised this should hang their head in shame."

These were the words of Coun Steve Shaw-Wright speaking about a leafleting campaign run by the district council encouraging tenants to vote yes in March's council house sell-off ballot.

Selby District Council spent more than £500,000 in the run-up to March's vote on selling the housing stock to independent housing association Town & Village Housing Ltd - but tenants voted against the proposal.

Figures obtained by The Press under the Freedom Of Information Act reveal that the campaign cost £554,000 - costs which have been covered by the council's general fund and its housing revenues account.

The district council spent the cash during an 18-month consultation and information campaign aimed at persuading tenants to approve the sale of the authority's housing stock. This included distributing the "Your Home, Your Future, Your Choice" leaflet to 4,045 tenants.

This cost almost £31,000, which works out at more than £7.50 per leaflet.

Coun Shaw-Wright said: "More than £7 per leaflet is ridiculous. God knows who they got to print them, but someone obviously made quite a lot of money out of it.

"You've got to wonder what else they have spent money on."

The Conservative-controlled authority also spent almost £17,000 on a promotional video, starring former Emmerdale star Johnny Leeze, of York.

Rachel Cunliffe, who was vice-chairwoman of the Say No To Housing Sell-Off, branded the costs a disgrace.

"The council should have known not to spend this money," she said.

"We told them in the beginning they wouldn't win it - and I'll never accept the costs.

"It's a disgrace what it cost - they wasted a lot on people travelling here and there, having all these meetings and sending information out."

But council leader Mark Crane hit back, saying the council's campaign had been successful because it had engaged tenants.

"The turn-out proves the information campaign was a success. It is not often you have a ballot with a 75 per cent turn-out. If less people had voted in the ballot and it had returned a yes' vote, then the no' campaigners would have complained about us not spending enough on getting the information out there."

The plan to sell the houses for £9 million - less than £3,000 each - was bitterly opposed by Labour councillors and many tenants.

In the postal ballot, 65.4 per cent of tenants opposed the sell-off move with a turn-out of 75.6 per cent.

Council leaders had claimed the sell-off was necessary to improve the homes with about £26.5 million of Government cash only available to a housing association.