A NEW conference that was set to launch in Winchester this week has been postponed due to the ‘Beast from the East’, writes Michael Seymour.

As the Chronicle went to press, an amber weather warning was in place for snow and ice in Winchester, meaning the city council felt they had no option but the postponed the new event.

In a statement yesterday, a spokesman for Winchester City Council said: “Due to the Met Office amber weather warning in place for Hampshire on Thursday through to Friday we have reluctantly decided to postpone Friday’s Unconference.

“We will update this webpage as soon as we have agreed an alternative date.”

As previously reported, ‘Unconference’ is a new business gathering with a difference which was set to discuss how the city can become a premier business location, especially for the ‘creative’ industries.

The event, which was due to be held on Friday, March 2, will have no pre-defined agenda, with participants instead pitching session ideas to each other, and these sessions go on to form the agenda.

It was set to be held at the Guildhall on The Broadway and was being organised by AHA Digital Ltd.

It comes as an amber weather warning was put in place for snow and ice between 12pm today and 8am tomorrow.

According to the Met Office, temperatures are set to remain at -3C/-2C for most of the day, however, forecasters say it could feel as cold as -11C, with a 60 per cent chance of snowfall for most of today.

From 8am tomorrow, the weather warning will be downgraded to yellow for snow and ice, which will continue until 9am on Saturday.

Following the forecasts, Winchester Churches Nightshelter has activated the Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP).

The protocol, which started in 2012 is part of a multi-agency strategy to ensure that every person sleeping rough has a place to stay during severe weather.

Workers go out every morning and contact known rough sleepers and make sure they have a place to sleep that evening, with the shelter providing up to six additional beds.

So far this year Winchester Nightshelter has provided 180 additional bed spaces.

In 2012 the Nightshelter activated this protocol 45 times. In the five years since it has done so 5-10 times a year. So far in 2018 the protocol has been running every day since January 23. Tonight will be the 37th day.

Manager Michele Price said: “We have 17 regular residents and they have been very hospitable welcoming guests into their home and helping them. They know they would want the same if it were them stuck in the cold.”

As well as providing residents with a place to stay during the extreme weather the shelter on Jewry Street also is provides warm clothing including hats, coats and gloves. The shelter is looking for donations of gloves which they said they are “running really low on.”

Visit www.wcns.org.uk.