An aggressive PR campaign by the thwarted property company, Mayfield Market Towns (MMT) has been described as “mendacious propaganda” by Mid Sussex MP, Sir Nicholas Soames.
MMT’s campaign has included a series of paid adverts in local newspapers and a stream of intimidating letters to both Mid Sussex and Horsham parish and district Councilors.
LAMBS has now analyzed all three adverts, published weekly in the Mid Sussex Times and East Grinstead Gazette since February 23, and found MMT’s claims to be repeatedly inaccurate, dishonest and misleading. In the case of the final advert, published this week, MMT steps over the line by grossly misrepresenting the Mid Sussex Inspector’s comments and publishing a brazen lie – claiming that the Inspector had “clearly stated that an assessment of a single settlement option should have been carried out.” HE DIDN’T
“They are desperate and their propaganda is mendacious,” tweeted an angry Sir Nicholas.
Despite the obvious public face of MMT’s PR Campaign, it is primarily targeted at local councillors who may be feeling the pressure in the aftermath of the Inspector’s Interim Findings which seek to vastly inflate the district’s housing numbers. Each time an advert is published, Frank Browne from MMT’s PR company, Meeting Place Communications, sends out a letter to local councillors alerting them to an imminent ‘advertorial’ and warning them about how local people may react. One of the letters concludes:
“We have arranged for this advertorial to be published in the local press this week but felt it was important to inform you of its contents, which we hope will be of some use to you as you decide upon the best way forward.”
Once again, Sir Nicholas provided us with the best response to these tactics by tweeting:
“Pathetic attempt to bully Cllrs with @MayfieldTowns mendacious propaganda”
It is now clear to LAMBS that MMT is becoming increasingly desperate. The company had pinned its hopes on the Mid Sussex Inspector calling for an early review and is now left with very few options. It desperately needs local councils to take it seriously but it has no plans, only fragments of land and no local support. This desperation is evident in a piece of hot headed correspondence sent by Director, Lee Newlyn to individual Mid Sussex District Councilors last week.
In this letter, Mr Newlyn fluffs his punctuation and makes wild claims about MMT’s ability to Compulsory Purchase land. He then calls for a “confidential” meeting with the council, claiming the Inspector had supported a new settlement option and that MMT could build 500 houses “quickly” – seemingly overlooking the small matter of plans, permissions and ownership.
After abandoning its Masterplan on Robert Worsely’s land, MMT is now further from its ‘vision’ than it was 4 years ago. Its present campaign is nothing more than well financed, aggressive PR hype.
LAMBS has decided not to publish MMT‘s propaganda on this page to prevent the lies and false claims being reproduced.
These false claims include:
- Using the findings of a non-independent, in-house opinion poll to claim that 7 out of 10 local people support a new market town.
- Claiming the area has already been ‘identified’ as suitable is a 2009 study into the feasibility of a new settlement (GL Hearn). It hasn’t – the site GL Hearn looked at was in a completely different location.
- Wrongly claiming the Inspector asked the council to look at a new settlement option.
- Implying MMT would be instead of ‘add-ons’ to existing settlements when it would be as well as.
- Claiming the area has a 1 in 1000 year flood risk!
- Claiming MMT can use CPOs to acquire land cheaply. THEY CAN’T.
- Claiming they own land when they don’t. (MMT has exchanged contracts on a smallholding at the edge of a local village but appears to be stalling on completing the purchase).
MMT’s three weeks of “Mendacious Propaganda”