A message to West Dorset District Council leader Antony Alford.

Is it, please, true that West Dorset District Council’s executive is considering eliminating the need for a full archaeological investigation of the Charles Street site in Dorchester, pictured, before progressing with the development’s Phase 2?

English Heritage says: “If the developer is unable to commit to full excavation, we suggest the car parking proposals are revised to omit the underground element, preserving the archaeology beneath the surface of the scheme.”

But could WDDC set aside English Heritage’s views? Could six members of your executive put forward a recommendation at your February 10 executive meeting, and get an endorsement by your party at the February 24 council meeting, to eliminate the need for the full investigation?

A party representing just 43 per cent of the votes at local elections, giving you 67 per cent of seats in the council and 100 per cent of seats in the all-powerful executive would be responsible for sweeping away thousands of years-worth of Dorchester’s and the nation’s unique Roman heritage.

Many of your fellow Conservatives among the public would surely be appalled?

I believe you have no public mandate to reverse the plan on full investigation.

If only – after decades of failure to develop the site – your executive had not decided to place new district council offices on top of 226 central car-parking spaces.

I request you kindly agree to a public debate before any recommendation goes to the executive, so the public’s views can be heard.

I propose you select an independent chairman and a large public venue where we each have 30 minutes to develop our arguments, before the matter is opened to the public for comments.

I will do this not as part of a group, but from my time/knowledge as acting director of the Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society.

John Grantham
Burton Bradstock