ONLY councillors from Winchester should make major decisions affecting the city, according to leading members of a new political campaign.

Winchester Independents is calling to rid the city council of "groupthink" and party politics during May's district elections.

The group saw Claer Lloyd-Jones' stinging report on the Silver Hill scheme as the opportunity to campaign for change at Winchester City Council.

In a Chronicle interview with three prominent campaigners, Tim Fell said: "The committees that make those decisions should be composed of people who come from the area the planning application is made. The planning committee that took the decision to let the latest version of Silver Hill go through didn't have a single city councillor on it.

"I don't mind in the least if they're offended. They don't represent the people who live in Winchester."

Judith Martin, a former Lib Dem councillor who has also joined the group, added: "I don't think there's a depth of understanding, that they perhaps would have if they had deeper roots."

The last cabinet member to represent a city ward was St Michael councillor Ian Tait, who was demoted a year ago.

Cllr David McLean, a planning committee member who represents Bishop's Waltham and voted on the Silver Hill plans, said: "What we have to remember is that Winchester is a district.

"Everybody across the district has a right to be involved in how those monies are spent. That would be my most generous answer."

Winchester Independents aims to contest every city ward "and beyond" and is meeting later this month to recruit candidates.

It is set to register as a political party to ensure its logo, the round table, appears on ballot papers.

Organiser Mike Caldwell, a prominent campaigner against plans to build on North Walls Recreation Ground, said: "We're acutely aware that we're part of a district and we very much hope to connect with other people outside of Winchester who have the same concerns as us."

Meanwhile, Mr Fell hit back at "uninformed criticisms" from Jackie Porter after the Lib Dem county councillor warned against electing "a team who object to everything, but don't have a plan".

Describing the argument as premature, he said: "If all we achieve is a dent in the Tory and Lib Dem vote, it will have the effect of getting them to improve their act. At the moment they sit there and let it wash over them.

"If it has a vision for Winchester, then the objective evidence of what that vision is is a miniature version of Basingstoke with a little historical enclave clamped on the side. That's not the vision we want."