Michael Fabricant has expressed his delight that Lichfield District Council has lodged a formal complaint against the Department of Communities and Local Government for a misleading advertisement promoting the proposed eco-town at Curborough. Meanwhile, Michael has received a formal answer to his Parliamentary Question asking how much the taxpayer has had to pay out to promote eco-towns.
The Parliamentary Question and Answer follow:-
Michael Fabricant: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much her Department spent on the promotional campaign Can Eco-towns be a Good Housing Solution (a) in total and (b) featuring Curborough, Staffordshire.
Caroline Flint [Minister of Housing]: Exact costs for the advertorials entitled: ‘Can Eco-towns be a Good Housing Solution’ are still to be finalised. However, we expect to spend approximately £53,000 in total for this series and I can confirm that the cost of buying media space for the Curborough advertorial was £1,250.64.
These advertorials encourage individuals in areas near potential eco-town locations to participate in the current period of consultation, which Government have a duty to support.
Michael is still awaiting a reply to a further question asking what steps her department will take "to set the record straight regarding her misleading advertisement".
The complaint lodged with the Advertising Standards Authority refers to a full page colour advertisement placed in the Lichfield Mercury newspaper on June 5th. The complainant is Richard King of Lichfield District Council. The complaint states:
The advertisement provides misleading information namely:
1) It is claimed that the proposed site for an Eco-town at Curborough is brownfield (previously developed land). The site in fact comprises substantially of greenfield, previously undeveloped.
2) It is claimed that the development site is a former Airfield. This too is incorrect. The proposed development of an Eco-town, if permitted, would involve land adjacent to the former Fradley which serves as a location for employment opportunities.
3) It is claimed that up to 50% of the houses within the Eco-town will be ‘affordable’. The actual proportion will not be determined until a detailed proposal is formulated. This has not been done as yet, and in any event Government guidance indicates that the proportion could be anywhere between 30-50%.