WHY has the failure of the multi-million pound Milburngate redevelopment in Durham to satisfy basic fire safety standards resulted only in prolonged silence from the main bodies involved?

Or is work being undertaken to find a way out of this costly stalemate?

The need for an early opening of the site is even more important in relation to the forthcoming programme of demolition and redevelopment of the Prince Bishops’ Place shopping area, and the continuing decline in the quantity and quality of shopping floorspace in the City.

Unless there is a huge effort to resolve the problems, the next few years look like a disaster for the City’s economy, attractiveness and reputation.

I appeal to the unfortunate developers and Durham County Council to be open and honest about the options ahead.

Would a building-by-building approach to remedial action on Milburngate be possible?

Might some of the buildings have to be demolished if too expensive to meet the safety requirements?

Can the important new path and steps across the site be opened now to directly link Durham Railway Station to the Riverside and the National Trust’s Crook Hall Gardens?

One of the several options cannot be to do nothing and leave this vital part of the City centre shuttered and silent.

The public are not children needing to be sheltered from unpleasant realities. Durham County Council should take the lead to promote a public debate involving the developers, the financiers, the planners and the building inspectors.

These key actors must present us not with a tragedy or a farce, but the realism and will needed to breathe life into this stalled project.

David Miller, Durham.