Michael Fabricant called on the Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott,
yesterday to explain why he had overturned his own Inspector’s decision to
allow a retail park in Burntwood. Speaking in the House of Commons,
Michael Fabricant asked (as reported in Hansard):-
"Does the Deputy Prime Minister recall the application for a retail
development in the mining town of Burntwood, in my constituency? Some 10,000
people signed a petition in favour of it, the inspector approved it,
Lichfield district council approved it and Staffordshire county council,
which is Labour controlled, also approved it. Why did the Deputy Prime
Minister refuse it?
John Prescott replied "I think that the hon. Gentleman is well aware of the
ruling that I cannot comment on a matter that is under legal challenge.
Every Secretary of State would have to give the same reply to the House. It
certainly applies in this case. The hon. Gentleman is usually on record as a
supporter of out-of-town development. He has obviously changed his mind: we
Michael Fabricant now says "That was no answer! His decision to turn down
the application still remains a mystery. I have consistently supported this
development and despite what the Deputy Prime Minister said in his answer to
me, this is not in conflict with my views on out of town shopping. This
retail and entertainment development is not ‘out of town’ and would be the
making of Burntwood. Combined with the fantastic new leisure centre
recently opened by Lichfield District Council, it will bring much needed
business and tourism into what was previously a deprived area. I hope that
the legal appeal against Prescott’s decision will be successful".