Conservative leader David Cameron has described the mix-up which saw Birmingham City Council send out leaflets with a picture of the city’s American namesake as “a very bad mistake”.
Mr Cameron spoke as he was in the region to campaign in Shropshire and Staffordshire, and to meet veterans at a ceremony to mark VJ Day.
He visited the National Memorial Arboretum, in the National Forest of Staffordshire, near Lichfield.
Asked about the error by Conservative-controlled Birmingham City Council, he said: “I think enough has been said about this very bad mistake already.”
The authority distributed around 720,000 pamphlets praising residents for recycling their rubbish, at a cost of £15,000. It was illustrated with a photograph of Birmingham, Alabama, rather than the West Midlands city.
Mr Cameron also revealed his exasperation with reports linking his party with Policy Exchange, the think tank which drew up controversial proposals to encourage residents in the deprived north and Midlands to move south in search of work and prosperity.
He described the report as “bonkers” and pointed out that the main author, London academic Tim Leunig, was a Liberal Democrat activist who has advised the Government on transport issues. Mr Cameron said: “It was written by a Liberal Democrat activist who is actually a Government advisor.”
He added: “Maybe you should ask the question of the Liberal Democrats.”
As well as meeting veterans, Mr Cameron said he was in the region to campaign for the Conservatives in Telford and for a private meeting with party activists near Stafford.
But the visit to the National Memorial Arboretum was the centrepiece of the visit, as Mr Cameron joined veterans and visitors for a short remembrance service in the Millennium Chapel of Peace and Forgiveness before laying a wreath.
He chatted with 90-year-old Jack Plant, from Great Wyrley, Staffordshire, who told the Tory leader about the three-and-a-half years he spent as a prisoner.
Mr Plant was captured in Java in 1942 while serving with the RAF, and spent his time as a prisoner building the Sumatra railway. He said: “I come here on August 15 every year without fail. In 1945, August 15 was the day I became a free man after three and a half years.
“It was about one month after that when they came to get us and we finally went home. There were lots of parties.”
Mr Cameron said: “It’s tragic that there are fewer and fewer people who are still alive who went through the experiences of being a prisoner of war in the Far East, so it’s important that we make sure our children and grandchildren understand what happened in that theatre of war.”
Speaking about the National Memorial Arboretum as a whole, he said: “This is an incredibly impressive memorial and I hope people come and see it.
“It’s a combination of a national memorial and one where organisations and regiments can have their place.”