Pathfinder facts

I TRUST you will allow a prompt response to Councillor Peter Downes s letter regarding council accommodation. Unlike Cllr Downes, I have attended every meeting of the advisory group regarding Pathfinder House. I have all the facts and my memory is still

I TRUST you will allow a prompt response to Councillor Peter Downes's letter regarding council accommodation. Unlike Cllr Downes, I have attended every meeting of the advisory group regarding Pathfinder House. I have all the facts and my memory is still intact. It is important that the public knows the accurate sequence of events and decision processes.

Firstly, the council is not building a council chamber, as Cllr Downes knows full well. Early on we determined that we should have a series of modular rooms that could double up for council meetings.

Secondly, Cllr Downes did not suggest joining with the county council at the Princes Street site. That suggestion came from a meeting with county council officials followed by an exploratory meeting with the county's preferred contractors - about four years ago. I will openly admit that Cllr Downes enthusiastically supported this process. Unfortunately, we were bound by rules dictated by the EU, which meant that we were unable to negotiate deals quickly and which have added both months of delay and considerable cost. It was always the case that there was an alternative (and attractive) use for the county site as housing which made the economics difficult.

Thirdly, Cllr Downes did not suggest separate buildings. This proposal came from the (now) preferred contractor upon submission of tenders last summer and had not been mentioned before.

From the start, I had insisted that any proposals were both flexible and future-proof, knowing the fluid nature of the public sector. Throughout the process, I had insisted that any development should also be capable of sub-letting in the event that space became available. I had also insisted that any development took maximum account of environmental considerations.

I have checked these facts with my senior colleagues and with officers of the council who confirm them to be accurate. Far from being a "folly", this development will enhance that part of Huntingdon and provide decent accommodation for whatever public or commercial organisation occupies it in the future. The mistake we have made and which I openly admit is taking far too long to get to this point.

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Finally, why does Cllr Downes make the insulting and impolite reference to surnames - once a headmaster always a headmaster?

Or more to do with the vendetta he has conducted against me since losing heavily in the elections of 2004? This resulted in his complaining about me to the Standards Board, by which I was totally exonerated and cleared, but I have been unable to publish the findings because of rules of confidentiality imposed by Government.

Councillor DEREK HOLLEY, Huntingdonshire District Council

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