The company prides itself on its "ethical, social and environmental policies” yet is to be reported to internet watchdogs that monitor domain names for fraudulent or misleading use:
Not content with buying interests in asbestos factory sites, Countryside Properties have now bought up many internet domain names including combinations of the words “save” “spodden” and “valley”.
Save Spodden Valley, the long established community campaign’s website is www.Spodden-Valley.co.uk and its main email address is SaveSpoddenValley@hotmail.com. The genuine website for the campaign has much information about the history of the controversial factory site, contaminated land, the destruction of woodland habitats and the plans to build hundreds of homes on the world’s first, then largest, asbestos textile factory.
Many are concerned that the bulk purchase of these domain names may be a cynical move that could be the start of a ‘dirty tricks’ campaign by the building company.
The misleading web addresses go directly to the front page of Countryside Properties corporate website.
Local resident Dave Phillips was saddened by this latest move apparently by Countryside Properties:
“as a father of 5 month old and 5 year old daughters I am very concerned about what Countryside Properties appear to be doing instead of addressing our community’s real and legitimate concerns about health”.
“Don’t the directors and managers of Countryside Properties have children? Is really this the work of an ethical company?”
“It is odd that once on the Countryside Properties website there is no information about asbestos and the Spodden Valley- what have they got to hide?”
Critics of this latest move are concerned that the “fake” web addresses may be used to misinform genuine research into asbestos, contamination and recent events in the Spodden Valley.
www.Spodden-Valley.co.uk has received messages of support from all over the world. Its web and email addresses have been printed in thousands of leaflets, posters and letters. The campaign has been reported in the regional and national media including television news reports, the BBC news website and 2 reports on BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours programme.
Campaign co-ordinator Jason Addy was philosophical about the “fake” website addresses:
“Countryside Properties now have 3 public relation firms working for them to promote the former asbestos factory site”.
“It may be that Countryside Properties’ directors do not know about these tactics and would be appalled at this tarnishing of their company’s reputation”.
“Countryside Properties employ a web design firm called CD9 Design Ltd. We will be asking that the domain names be transferred to the Save Spodden Valley campaign, their rightful recipient. Creating ‘bogus’ weblinks doesn’t look good for Countryside Properties. We have been told that it is the sort of scam usually conducted by pornographers, gangsters and con-artists and certainly not by reputable national building companies. This may be a mistake made by an over-eager web-designer that could be resolved amicably”.
“Imitation may be the best form of flattery and it indicates a bit of desperation by their “PR” people. Asbestos is an issue for medical doctors not ‘spin’ doctors”.
“After they have made their apologies, perhaps Countryside Properties could make a donation to an asbestos-cancer charity or put some money aside to repair the woodlands destroyed in the Spodden Valley”.
“Countryside Properties have now admitted being involved with the asbestos factory site for over a year-before the woodlands were destroyed in May 2004- it is about time Countryside Properties had real information about asbestos on a real Countryside Properties website”.
”As a community campaign, we have very little funds and we make the most of what we have to keep our community safe. When faced with a development that could potentially disturb tens of thousands of tonnes of asbestos waste, buying up domain names seems very petty when there is so much to do.”
“All we want is to have all the facts about the site out in the open. We are grateful for the passionate support of communities throughout the world who do not want to our town’s younger generations to suffer any risk of a continued legacy of asbestos poisoning”.
“We ask Countryside Properties again to repair the damage-
to the Spodden Valley and its woodlands… and to their own corporate reputation”.
“A first step would be to remove the bogus weblinks that use a long-established campaign’s name. Save Spodden Valley would be happy to put a link on its website to Countryside Properties website if they have facts to share with everybody. Surely a responsible company has nothing to hide?”