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Leader resigns after decision to vary £165m development scheme quashed

The Leader of Winchester City Council has resigned in the wake of a court ruling that the authority’s decision to adopt an updated scheme for a £165m city centre redevelopment without conducting a procurement exercise was unlawful.

The High Court last week agreed with the claimant, a councillor at Winchester opposed to the Silver Hill scheme, that variations in 2014 to the 2004 development agreement – taken as a whole – had resulted in a contract that was materially different in character.

Mrs Justice Lang concluded that Winchester’s decision to authorise these variations, without carrying out a procurement process as required by Directive 2004/18/EC and the Public Contracts Regulations 2006, was unlawful and should be quashed.

In a statement announcing his resignation, Cllr Robert Humby said: "Over the last week, I have reflected carefully on my position as Leader of the council. I have come to the conclusion that the time has now come for me to step aside.

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“I stand by the decisions I and the Cabinet made on Silver Hill. They were taken after consulting with officers and taking external legal advice.”

He added: “I think it is also important to remember that the majority of decisions on Silver Hill were taken long before I was Leader.

“Nevertheless, I was Leader when the Court decision was handed down and so must take responsibility for that judgment.”

Cllr Humby said: “I have always sought to act in the best interests of the City. I believe it is now in the best interests of Winchester and the council for me to stand aside to allow a new Leader to take matters forward.

“I hope this will allow for a new spirit of co-operation, and in particular allow the council to set a budget at its meeting on Thursday. I have been proud to lead the City Council and wish my successor the very best."

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