SHOUTS of "we say no" from protesters brandishing placards greeted councillors as they arrived to debate the council's controversial office project.

A packed cabinet meeting at Salisbury's City Hall last week, heard that residents remain unconvinced about the location of the centralised offices at Bourne Hill, the style of the building and its impact on the surrounding environment and traffic flow.

Around 50 people showed their anger by holding a protest outside the meeting and council leader Richard Britton was presented with a 2190-signature petition against the £13.7 million scheme, which had been gathered in three weeks.

But despite the heckles and strong words from residents, councillors voted to approve the business case for the office complex which, subject to approval from Secretary of State Ruth Kelly, could get under way early next year.

But management consultant Gavin Grant, who opposed the scheme, branded the document as "disjointed and incomplete".

"This is not yet a good business case it is not even close," he told councillors.

"You would be unwise to approve it in its current form.

"Data is woefully lacking. It is paper- thin veneer on some pretty confused thinking.

"As a council tax payer I want you to spend my money wisely and, on the evidence, this will not happen.

"You are accountable for what you do and if you chose to approve this business case you will be responsible for the debacle that will inevitably follow."

Other protesters accused councillors of failing to listen and St Edmund and Milford ward councillor Paul Sample called for a year's delay "to let things cool" because of the "strong evidence of public disquiet".

But council leader Richard Britton said that each month's delay would add £50,000 to the bill for the scheme which has already shot up by £2 million and setting back the project and reconsidering other options would cost the district millions.

"We realise the passions that have been raised," he said.

"There is a separate document which contains the detail which is available for everyone to see.

"I believe in a year's time we will be in the same position, Bourne Hill will still be the best option and we will be faced with inflated building costs which could have an impact on council tax payers."

Cabinet member Cllr John Brady said that the Audit Commission had already given its support to the project, which had been subjected to intensive scrutiny and has the backing of English Heritage.

"If we start looking at other options besides Bourne Hill again we will be back at square one," he said.

"That would be irresponsible."

Councillors also argue that the project is the only way to save the dilapidated Bourne Hill building, which would have to be sold to a private developer if it is abandoned by the council.