Below is Councillor Kim Gottlieb's letter to the Hampshire Chronicle regarding the bid to sell St Clements Surgery to Winchester City Council...

SIR: As much as I love the Chronicle, the story in last week’s edition (February 21) regarding my proposed sale of the St Clements surgery to the city council, firmly grasps the wrong end of the stick.

I bought the site in November 2016 to avert a revival of the Henderson scheme, and to prevent the St Clements Practice being evicted with nowhere to go. During the previous year both events were distinct possibilities. I also wanted to keep the site within the council ‘family’, as after a decade of negotiations with the council the then owners had put the property on the open market.

READ: Rebel councillor's plan to sell Silver Hill surgery to council >>>

I have received numerous enquiries, and some offers, for the site and could have sold it for a great deal more than is provisionally agreed with the council. The Chronicle was fed selective information and didn’t report the price actually agreed, but it would result in my recovering only the cost of my purchase and some legal fees spent on related ‘issues’ with the council. In any event, I will remain deeply in the red and the suggestion that I have profiteered is as unkind as it is misguided. I put my house on the line to pursue the judicial review, and I have been paying for trying to do the right thing ever since. I simply wanted to stop a development which even the council now accepts would have damaged the city. It was also the case that the High Court found that the council had acted unlawfully but, it seems, it has never reconciled itself with that fact.

My aspiration has always been that the regeneration of the city centre should be heritage-led. Instead of selling off the site for commercial development, the council should retain ownership and develop it chiefly for civic-minded uses. The adoption of the Supplementary Planning Document represents significant progress, though there is still a long way to go to see how it is translated into actual development proposals. The council’s acquisition of St Clements is critical to the site assembly and future development of Silver Hill, and it would be a great shame if that endeavour was again delayed by further political intrigues.

Cllr Kim A Gottlieb,

East Stratton