SIR: Another shameful night is the only way to describe the Full Council meeting last week, as Silver Hill was put on the same disastrous trajectory as the previous Henderson efforts. The decision was made by the de-facto Leader of the Council, Kelsie Learney with the rest of the Lib Dem group, bar a few brave souls, pushing it through on a wave of misconception. It was on her watch in 2010, when Cllr Learney was actually Leader, that Henderson was allowed to take over the project from Thornfield. Had the council been more intelligent, it would have taken control itself and waited for the recession to unravel.

Kelsie Learney is not alone in her offence, and much of the blame for the mess to come rests with the chief executive, Laura Taylor. It was Ms Taylor, and her ex-Basingstoke council officer chums who changed the team and dumped JTP, in favour of JLL. Whereas JTP are a firm of architects and planners who worked hard to gain the trust of residents in the production of the Supplementary Planning Document (“SPD”), JLL are estate agents who, in my view, have subverted the SPD and produced nothing of worth in return for a PPE contract in fees.

READ MORE: Council chiefs accused of repeating history as Silver Hill case criticised

It is the persistent dissembling that destroys confidence. The Council has eschewed the normal straightforward process of commissioning a masterplan because, it says, it doesn’t have the skills. At the same time, it asserts that it does have the skills to direct and control the far more nuanced ongoing relationship with a development partner. No, it doesn’t, and it’s as good as certain that the Council will roll over, to the city’s detriment, on every issue as they arise.

The Chronicle was right to say in its leader (Chronicle, January 13) that it’s time the “Council learnt from court challenges” because it clearly hasn’t learnt that council business needs to be conducted in a trustworthy and lawful way. Nor has the council, as represented by Cllrs Learney, Thompson and Laura Taylor, learnt anything from the history of Silver Hill the failure of which they seem determined to repeat.

Kim A Gottlieb,

East Stratton

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