SIR: It is clear that the public sector needs to have sufficient resources to be able to perform its functions effectively. We have seen this locally with the Winchester City Council planning and enforcement team, where the decision in the last budget to remove three and a half posts looking increasingly short sighted.

I am all for experts from the private sector being brought in to help where appropriate, providing expertise and experience which it is not efficient for the public sector to cover this itself. But for outsourcing to work properly, the public sector needs to have sufficient numbers of people of the right experience within it; for example with consultants, they need to be able to ask the right questions of the private sector and to be able to interrogate and act correctly on the advice given.

Without this, costs are wasted and consultants can run away with projects. In this context, the fact that Jones Lang Lasalle have been paid around £850,000 of council taxpayers’ money since 2019 by Winchester City Council on projects in the city must be a cause for concern.

In essence, the public sector needs to have the corporate brain to be able to function effectively, both in providing services itself and outsourcing these. My impression is that Hampshire County Council seems to do this well. But I am worried that staff reductions at Winchester City Council make it increasingly difficult for it to provide services itself or to manage outsourced services and

consultants properly. The well publicised problems with planning and enforcement and the need for effective decisions on Central Winchester (including on the dormant Station Approach site and the negotiations on River Park) mean that an urgent rethink is required.

Hugh Lumby,

Meon Valley division, Hampshire County Council,

Upper Meon Valley ward, Winchester City Council,

High Street,