Nottingham City Council has been asked to apologies to Eric Pickles, after wrongly serving the communities secretary with an enforcement notice over a derelict building.
Before Easter, Nottingham served Pickles with a Section 215 notice to clean up local site Lancaster House, an ‘eyesore’ which the council claims is attracting vermin.
However a formal response to the local authority from Baroness Stowell said the Government had ‘absolutely no legal responsibility’ for the building.
‘It is owned by private landlords. DCLG has never occupied this property as such, but the secretary of state is the legal title holder for a large amount of the civil estate,’ Stowell wrote.
‘Had the council bothered to undertake proper research and check the facts, this expense to local and national taxpayers could have been avoided.
‘I can only reasonably conclude that this was a political stunt by the council – but one which has backfired given the council’s claims are demonstrably untrue and given taxpayers’ money has been wasted as a result.
‘I would suggest it would be gentlemanly for the council to offer an apology to the secretary of state, given the unjustified and unfounded personal attack. If the council declines to give one, the public will be able to draw their own conclusions on how your councillors conduct themselves in public life,’ Stowell concluded.
A Nottingham City Council spokesman said: ‘Our primary concern with Lancaster House is that it is a property where action is urgently needed to deal with a significant problem with rubbish and vermin, and it is this and nothing else which motivated us to tackle it.
‘We have of course carried out all the necessary checks in the usual way and the Land Registry records from last month show the DCLG as current proprietors of the property.
‘We contacted civil servants at the DCLG on a number of occasions and at no point did they inform us it was not their property. We therefore had no reason to believe the property was not theirs.’