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War of words escalates over Pathfinder

SAVE Britain's Heritage has issued an angry denial of the ODPM's response to its damning new report on the government's controversial Pathfinder programme.

The heritage group has obtained an internal document from government spin doctors, entitled 'The Line To Take', which instructs officials on how to respond to the report.

SAVE's Pathfinder report, published yesterday, launches an angry attack on the Pathfinder housing policy, which will see swathes of Victorian terraced housing demolished in a bid to force house prices upwards.

However, the internal ODPM document savages this report, slamming its content about the housing initiative as 'ill-informed scaremongering'.

It also sets out a number of SAVE's claims and attempts to rubbish the research that went into the report.

'The report is utter nonsense, SAVE are clearly only interested in ill-informed scaremongering, not the facts. Nor are they interested in helping communities who have been blighted by low demand and boarded-up homes,' the document says.

But, as the war of words escalated yesterday, the heritage organisation's secretary Adam Wilkinson hit back. 'The ODPM has accused SAVE of 'scaremongering' and its report of being 'nonsense',' he said. 'But SAVE deals in facts.'

The government's 'Line To Take' also sets its sights on direct SAVE statistics, for example, dismissing the claim that 168,000 homes will be demolished by 2016. 'This is complete nonsense,' the document says. 'It is completely wrong to project future activity on the basis of progress so far.'

In a long statement with a series of other rebuttals, Wilkinson points out that paragraph 9.19 of the ODPM-endorsed document, Moving Forward The Northern Way, gives the figure of 167,000 houses to be demolished, and calls for more to be demolished.

by Ed Dorrell

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