Gus O’Donnell’s Email To John Trickett
January 12, 19.34
From: Gus O’Donnell
To: Jon Trickett MP
Thank you for your email sent on Monday evening about an announcement during a by-election campaign on new Government incentives to bring empty homes back into use.
I have looked urgently into the issues you raise.
The sequence of events as I have been able to establish is as follows:
Communities and Local Government (CLG) issued a press release on Friday 7 January announcing additional Government funding to bring empty homes back into use. The press release was embargoed until Monday 10 January. This was a national announcement which made no reference to Oldham and therefore would not be in breach of by-election restrictions.
Andrew Stunell visited Oldham on Saturday 8 January. As part of this he visited an empty property in Oldham that had been brought back into use by the Council. I understand that he did not refer to the planned funding announcement during his visit.
The Liberal Democrat Party issued a press release on Sunday 9 January, embargoed until Monday 10 January, referring to the Minister’s visit and highlighting new government incentives to bring empty homes back into use. This was timed to coincide with the issue of the Government’s press release.
Taking these events together, the Minister recognises with hindsight that his visit could have been associated in the minds of the public with a government announcement of additional funding, and has apologised for this.