Should there be rules to prevent disinformation?


Yesterdays ‘It’s Our Cornwall’ highlighted a news propaganda item from the ‘Homes for Britain, PR machine. As has been pointed out previously the campaign is organised for a range of homebuilders who will use any opportunity to promote house building.

Lets look at some of the points raised:

(1) Porthleven, like many Cornish coastal towns, has a thriving local community which exists side-by-side with a thriving tourist industry. With the area becoming ever-more desirable, many local families have given up hope of getting a home of their own in the area. Coastline is currently developing a new scheme of 27 new homes in the town.

Yes there is a problem in Porthleven which building more houses cannot solve. There need to be restrictions on change of use to holiday homes and lets for example.

(2) This is because the campaign comes at a time when housing demand vastly outstrip supply at both a national and local level.

Really? Cornwall builds far more homes than are required to meet local need, supply is certainly NOT a problem.

Demand for houses from the affluent, investors and those looking for holiday homes/lets is a problem!

(3) We spoke to one Truro resident Graham Selley who lives locally, he brought his own house 41 years ago for £6,000 and explained that even back then he was in competition with 8 other people to buy it and whoever signed first was the new owner. He has seen the competition for homes get even greater and worries how the younger generation, including his grandchildren will get on the housing ladder as prices keep rising and not enough are being built. It was great to speak to people who were as passionate about housing issues as we are.

Always good to find a local resident with his or her knowledge to add to the press release. Right some facts – it’s quite common for several people to be after the same house. Not enough houses are being built – really? Perhaps a quick trip around Cornwall would reveal how many are actually being built!

The propaganda release is disingenuous to harp on about lack of supply. A more useful approach would be to look at all the factors which actually make it difficult for local households to compete in the housing market. When we see reports which cite people making more insightful comments about housing we will be more impressed. For example we might see:

“Jack was worried about getting a house because in the village where he lived most houses were being bought by people who just wanted a second home. Why did the Government not act to stop this he demanded.”

“Jenny wondered why developers were building so many houses at prices no local person could afford and obviously advertising them to attract people to Cornwall.”

Unlikely to see quotes like those because the campaign is devoted to house building – whether they are used to actually house local people in need is not the issue!

Perhaps we need a body like the Advertising Standards Authority to vet such releases?

For more of the release see: http://www.24dash.com/news/housing/2015-02-19-Homes-for-Britain-Campaign-Day-1-Cornwall-Betsy-the-Bus-and-a-few-pasties

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