Congratulations on your report about the post of rural housing enabler in Chichester District Council’s development and planning department.

We now have confirmation of what has been the concern of many residents living in the district that there was a very close relationship between the council’s officers and Hyde Martlet.

It is a well-established fact council officers must be completely independent of any commercial or political influence. Public finance and planning issues must be administered and decided without any external commercial interests being brought to bear.

It is inconceivable therefore the district council thinks it is not breaking the fundamental principles which set the standards for payment of salaries and expenses for staff, namely it has to be financed from the community charge and/ or government grants to avoid compromising their position of independence in the decision-making process.

How can a local government officer who is having 70 per cent of his or her salary paid by Hyde Martlet make decisions which are free of commercial interest?

The justification put forward by CDC that their costs would be reduced must be balanced against the huge commercial advantage to Hyde Martlet by having access to planning policies and decisions.

There is also the possibility of sensitive information being leaked.

A full judicial review must be carried out by a completely independent authority to re-establish proper professional working practices and standards throughout all the council’s departments as this does not seem to be the only case of non-compliance.

Derek Stewart Smith