Winchester March – Leaflets Dropped Through City Letterboxes
Posted by Andy Goddard
Posted in News
Thousands of leaflets have begun to appear on doormats throughout the city, urging residents to turn up later this month for a peaceful protest in what is being termed as the ‘Winchester March’.
Organisers say it will give the opportunity to tell the City Council of their concerns.
The leaflet says the participants ‘demand a change of culture within the City Council’ so that it acts with ‘greater transparency, is more receptive to the ideas of people who live here, and really focuses on what makes Winchester special.’
The leaflet follows a year of arguments over various issues, including Barton Farm, the Silver Hill development, and the redevelopment of the River Park Leisure Centre which led to the ‘Save The Rec’ campaign.
The Leader of Winchester City Council, Robert Humby, has already said in a statement earlier this month that he is “surprised” over the claims that there has been a lack of public consultation on development and that the protest groups are choosing to focus on that issue.
“The matters they have mentioned in their public statements are many and varied – Silver Hill, River Park Leisure Centre, Barton Farm, Station Approach, the Chesil Street surface car park.
“One thing these diverse issues have in common is extensive public consultation. There have been public meetings, exhibitions and a whole variety of consultation over many months or even years on all of these schemes.
“Frequently that leads to significant changes and improvements to proposals – Silver Hill, River Park Leisure Centre and the Chesil surface car park are prime examples where consultation has led to change. The City Council has listened and continues to listen.”
Councillor Humby also refutes the notion that decisions are taken in darkened rooms:
“They are taken in open, public meetings. Members of the public can and do speak to those meetings. Their comments are picked up in our debate. Hard choices are made by Members elected by local communities across the district. That’s how democracy works.
“We cannot always do what every campaign group wants. We have to see the bigger picture, whether it’s the much-needed homes for vulnerable elderly we plan at Chesil or the improved town centre retail Silver Hill will offer. If the outcome is not what a lobby group might want, it doesn’t mean we’re not listening, it’s just that the democratic decision went against them.”
He also rejects the suggestion that there is a lack of transparency or proper consultation:
“We could, of course, always do better. But it is plain wrong to say we have closed minds or ears. Our democratic processes are working well and delivering proposals that improve as a result of public consultation and which will benefit Winchester.
“Those who suggest – quite wrongly – that the Council pays ‘lip service’ to consultation risk undermining the very process they claim to value by seeking to replace democratic debate with a ‘do as we say’ attitude.”
The leaflet says the Winchester March is about the future of Winchester and it will be non-political and peaceful.
The March on Saturday 29 November will meet at 11am at North Walls Recreation Ground next to the tennis courts.
It will set off at 11.15am towards the Guildhall.
At 12 midday, a message will be delivered, along with short speeches.
At 12.30, everyone is being told to: “Go off to enjoy the rest of the weekend.”
More information is available on the winchester march website – or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also follow the March on Twitter @WinchesterMarch