SIR — Re the traders in the unlovely Casson block on St George’s Street.

Cllr George Beckett is only partly right when he says the local authority has a responsibility to maximise income from its commercial properties.

In fact what it has, under the Local Government Act 2000, is a requirement to promote well-being, social and environmental as well as merely economic.

This is in order to contribute to sustainable development.

There is nothing sustainable about raising rents to a level that means properties are empty.

The then local government minister, John Healey, said 18 months ago that most local authorities were failing to use this power enough.

It allows just about anything except raising taxes.

It could certainly allow a more imaginative approach to the increasing number of empty properties in the city. It might even stretch to rescuing the important bits — the housing — of the Silver Hill development.

Judith Martin, Romsey Road, Winchester.