WINCHESTER cyclists have been protesting over the removal of 15 bike racks in the city centre.

The city council has unveiled plans to remove the stands from St Maurice's Covert as part of a refurbishment scheme.

Campaigners say they are against the proposals because the racks are 'well used' and that they are the 'only public under-cover stands in central Winchester.'

Andy Key, member of Cycle Winchester, said: "Local cyclists support the decision to refurbish the Covert but believe that replacement under-cover stands can be located at the back of the Covert.

"At a time when the City of Winchester Movement Strategy is advocating measures to encourage cycling and walking, it’s madness for the city council to be cutting down the number of cycle racks in the centre.

"First we were told that the racks had to be taken out of the plan for ‘accessibility reasons’.

"When this turned out not to be the case, we were then told that the racks would ‘spoil the view’ through the Covert from the High Street.

"The view they’d be spoiling is the back end of the Mercure Wessex Hotel, with its fire exit doors and wheelie bins. Even if you love 1960s architecture, you can hardly claim that’s one of Winchester’s most inspiring scenes."

The city council has suggested that an alternative site could be found for new cycle racks.

Details on a suggested location and budget allocation are yet to be confirmed.