SIR: As one of those closely involved with the Theatre Royal since it was set up, some 40 years ago, it is no surprise that Phil Yates has joined those attacking my recent letter.

Whether or not the theatre was a “flea pit cinema” when it was bought, for I believe about £40,000, by the original investors, no one associated with the project has ever answered my main query, how much public money has been used to subsidise the probably very small proportion of Winchester’s ratepayers, who actually use it.

As to Phil Yates assertion that I declined Jenny [Lady] Bland’s offer to meet and discuss the project with her, she was a regular customer of mine at the time and I have no recollection of being so invited.

She always claimed that the theatre would run without subsidy, quoting the theatre in Norwich, which I contended had little competition compared with Winchester, with its proximity to London, Southampton, Portsmouth and Bournemouth. She also claimed a level of use, which has never been achieved.

My contention that Winchester should have been built instead, a much larger, multi-use venue that could host a far wider range of events and appeal to a much wider audience, has always been rubbished by those involved with the Royal project.

My wife used to be Chairman of Winchester Music Club and as do other local choirs, required space for a full orchestra, members of the choir and a good audience.

When I visit a theatre, I happily pay the full cost and hope to experience again, the euphoria felt after visits to among others, Covent Garden, Sydney Opera House, the Bolshoi, the Hermitage Theatre in Leningrad, Budapest Opera House and Vienna’s State Opera House.

A visit to the Theatre Royal - no thank you!

Keith Webb,

Quarry Road,