A COUNCIL scheme which aimed to increase resident participation in meetings will return for the first time since November, when not a single villager turned up.

For more than a year, Winchester City Council has been holding every other cabinet meeting in a different location around the district.

The aim is to reflect the diversity and geographic scope of the district, which covers a wide area of central Hampshire.

It was hoped it would ensure the meetings were more accessible to residents from different areas and encourage people to interact more closely with their elected representatives.

However, civic chiefs were criticised after November’s meeting in South Wonston, when the public gallery only included the regular opposition councillors and former Labour city councillor Patrick Davies.

Addressing the cabinet at the time, Mr Davies said: “It doesn’t work. All the items (on the agenda) relate to central Winchester. There’s no local people present.”

This was supported by Lib Dem councillors Lucille Thompson and Eleanor Bell. Cllr Thompson said: “When we have an agenda like we have today it does seem bizarre we are here. There’s nobody here from South Wonston.”

However, council leader Cllr Caroline Horrill defended the project. She said: “We have made the commitment to do [cabinet meetings on the road] every other meeting. We are trying to be as open as possible.

Since then the council has publicised the scheme several times on social media accounts.

The next cabinet on the road will be at the Wickham Centre, Wickham, at 4.30pm on Wednesday, January 23.