I WAS interested but somewhat foxed to read the statement of the deputy leader of BCP Council (Echo 16 December) (with reference to the planning application of Talbot Village Trust and Nuffield Hospital) that planning officers have been instructed to provide the Planning Committee with reasons for refusal that are "defensible enough to withstand an appeal".

This action indeed comes very late in the day, and well outside the statutory time limits for issuing a decision notice and thus "determining" the application.

The grounds of refusal should have been firmed up at the Planning Committee in October.

They are well set out in all the objections. It surprises me that the officers did not apparently foresee the possibility - despite the substantial body of local opinion against the proposal- that permission would be refused, and thus put themselves in a position to assist the Committee at the appropriate time.

We haven't hope that this delayed instruction will have the desired effect, and be able to sway the Inspector on appeal, rather than being seen as an attempt to mitigate costs.

However, this, and the failure to issue a decision notice on time, do not reflect well on the Council.

I fear that the many local residents who objected - some of whom took the trouble to attend the October meeting - will feel that they have been badly let down.

Stephen Chappell

Dunkeld Road,