"THIS must never happen again."

That was the message from Christchurch councillors as a final report on the Highcliffe beach huts fiasco was discussed.

The project for overnight huts on the cliffs was canned last year after a high profile campaign to halt the controversial scheme with TV production company Plum Pictures.

A meeting of the scrutiny and policy review committee heard members vow to never enter into "onerous" confidential contracts again.

They also recommended that any future contracts should be brought before a committee, changing the original recommendation from leader and deputy leader.

Members also criticised the decision to keep the defunct contract secret from members - due to a 'non-reveal' clause.

In the report to the committee, ward councillor Vicki Hallam was criticised for 'misleading' officers over the level of public support for the scheme. She was not mentioned by name in the meeting.

Cllr David Jones said: "There are three areas in which things went wrong.

"And if we are going to learn the lessons then we have got to make sure we understand the areas in which things did go wrong."

He said the culmination of a series of minor things had led to the major loss of public confidence in the council.

He added: "Residents were not properly informed. With a different type of application, it may have been they might have come along (with us).

"The way it was done shut out the possibility."

Chairman of the committee, Colin Jamieson said: "There needs to be a consultation process and strategy that allows us to look at a project and understand what the consequences are."

And Cllr Colin Bungey added: "I think we should learn from this that in any conservation area or area of public open space, there should not be permitted development rights and it should not be dealt with under officer delegated powers.

"It should go to committee."