Anonymous letters distributed in the Carholme area, warning residents of a house price crash if an Article Four direction were implemented, have caused outrage amongst city councillors and permanent residents.
The letters, posted to houses on Carholme Road, Foss Bank, Hewson Road, and others last week, contain case studies of other cities where Article Four directions have been implemented and house prices – allegedly – have fallen.
Some of the examples listed across two pages of the letter include Manchester, Portsmouth, Chelmsford, and Leicester.
Nigel Manders, of the West End Residents’ Association, told The Linc: “These ‘letters’ appear to be a crude attempt to frighten residents into opposing the introduction of Article 4.
“The use of a large red font and claims that are not backed up with evidence about the implications of Article 4 on property values in the West End is one thing, but what is more disappointing is that the person or persons who have written and delivered these letters have not had the courage of their convictions or argument to put their name on the letter.
“Throughout this process, the West End Residents’ Association and individual residents of the West End have been prepared to argue their point openly and transparently; sadly, in this case, others have not felt the need to do so.”
However, he added that the letters may well have backfired on whoever had written them: “What the ‘letters’ may well have done is to persuade residents who support Article 4 but may not have submitted a response, to now do so.”
The back page of the letter also contained a form of opposition residents could fill in and send to the council’s consultation – in a pre-stamped and addressed envelope that the unknown author had also attached.
Councillor Karen Lee, who represents the Carholme ward, found the cost of distributing such letters highly suspicious.
“Given the cost of giving out free stamped envelopes they must have been distributed by someone with the funds to do that, which does give rise to speculation regarding the likelihood of their holding a strong financial interest,” she told The Linc.
“I think that anything sent out anonymously is reprehensible and clearly demonstrates the sender does not have the courage to be open about their identity and, by virtue of their anonymity, obviously has something to hide.”
She also alleged that the claims about house prices within the letters were completely unfounded: “The claims made in the letter are entirely inaccurate and there is no evidence A4D will affect property prices.
“It is noticeable that absolutely no mention is made of the positive effect A4D will have on community cohesion locally, again pointing in the direction of the sender holding a strong financial interest and having no interest whatsoever in helping our local community.
“I think that both the content of the letters and the fact that they are anonymous clearly underlines the lack of integrity by some people who are involved in this debate.
“I would hope others might share my viewpoint that communities should matter much more than money.”
Many of the residents do agree with Cllr Lee’s viewpoint, according to Mr Manders: “Speaking to a number of residents who have received [the letters], they felt insulted and made the point that life isn’t just about money but is about lifestyle and community.”
It also appears that even those who delivered the letters were being paid, after another Carholme councillor, Neil Murray, confronted the distributors.
“When it came through my door, I asked the people who delivered it who paid them,” he explained. “They confirmed that someone did pay them to deliver it, but they wouldn’t tell me who.
“Therefore, I would suggest this is probably invalid, because it seems to me that some dodgy organisation is using someone’s money to send out something that’s absolutely scaremongering and scurrilous. I’d like to know who’s doing it.”
The results of the consultation are due to be published later this year, and the Article Four direction would then come into effect on March 1 2016.Tweet