A POTENTIAL name for Winchester’s new leisure has caused controversy after it emerged it was shared with a senior councillor’s rock band.

Winchester city councillors probed cabinet members over the potential names which included the Chalk Flower.

It has since emerged that portfolio holder for finance Guy Ashton was the drummer in a band called Chalk Flowers, causing outcry among opposition Lib Dem councillors.

At last week’s council meeting, Cllr Jane Rutter questioned Cllr Lisa Griffiths, the cabinet member leading on the leisure centre project, who came up with the “dire trio of suggested names” including The Soke and The Mint, over how much money was spent on the naming process.

Hampshire Chronicle:

Cllr Griffiths said: “Cabinet members spent their own time researching names based on local history and knowledge of the area. It was decided to test these with local people prior to making any decisions.

“No money was spent on this exercise.”

Speaking to the Chronicle, Cllr Rutter said: “The serious element of my question was how much money has been spent. The reply indicated that no public money had been wasted... Apparently officers work for the City Council for free!

“This might all seem ridiculous, but there is a serious side to it and it reveals an attitude from members of the Conservative cabinet that will greatly dismay as much as it astonishes most people.”

However, Cllr Ashton has since dismissed the furore, saying the band broke up in 2016 and he thought it might be a creative name.

He said: “I thought it would be a nice gift.

Hampshire Chronicle:

“Personally, I think it should be something more creative, more aspirational, but people said they want something that reflects Winchester.”

Cllr Ashton hit back at critics who had criticised the names, but not suggested something better.

The name was chosen a reference to the area’s chalk streams and soil.

As previously reported, the three names received little support when they were released on social media late last year.

The council said The Mint reflects local medieval money-making, while The Soke is the name of the area where the bishop had jurisdiction.

A decision on the name in due to made at a leisure centre committee meeting on Monday February 11.