WINCHESTER civic chiefs’ new entrepreneurial spirit has been mocked by an opposition councillor.

Martin Tod, Lib Dem, mocked the Tories for their stated ‘entrepreneurial’ approach. The council wants to withstand cuts in Government funding by becoming more pro-active in making money.

Cllr Tod pointed out the council had an aim to have made £500,000 profit from asset purchases by this month. It had bought land for a car park in Alresford.

“We bought a car park. It doesn’t sound like the Chinese will be living in fear of our entrepreneurial spirit. I don’t think we will be on the front cover of Fortune with that one.”

The overview and scrutiny committee heard from the Conservatives that they were making good progress on major schemes including the new leisure centre, Station Approach and Silver Hill 2.

The Lib Dems argued that the sports centre at Bar End and the new doctors’ surgery for the corner of Friarsgate and Upper Brook Street have been running late.

Original plans envisaged work starting at Bar End this year but now the council says it will be in 2019 subject to planning approval. Completion will be in 2021 rather than 2020.

Cllr Victoria Weston, Conservative, said: “I am pleased to see so many things on track. The leisure centre and Station Approach are not really delayed. Everything is moving forward. It shows how hard the staff are working.”

Those schemes, totalling around £200 million, will all see major steps forward this year with planning applications expected for all three.

On Silver Hill 2, also known as the Central Winchester Regeneration project, a public meeting will be held before the end of this month.

Cllr Tod countered: “My concern is that the council is too complacent.

“People at the Pitt park and ride are having to stand as buses go by full. We have money to buy buses. We need far more urgency.

The Buttercross is covered in droppings, weeds are growing out of it. Seven years the Conservatives have been running the council and you haven’t had time to sort it. This council needs to up its game. Too may things are in decline and need sorting out.”

Cllr Jan Warwick said the council was spending money buying a ninth bus that would run on the park and ride service in the near future.

Meanwhile the city council has underspent by £1 million on its general fund. Cllr Guy Ashton, portfolio holder for finance, will be drawing up ways to spend the money.

A private business is interested in the former goods depot at Bar End as a centre for business, councillors heard.

The city council dropped its own plans for an initiative centre, as revealed in the Chronicle last month.

Kevin Warren, head of estates, said offices were being let in Middle Brook Street. As well as a pilates studio there will soon be a gin emporium above Poundland.