A NEW way to engage with the public has been launched by civic chiefs.

Anyone can now attend the full Council meetings and ask questions of the Cabinet.

It was introduced at the meeting in the Guildhall on Wednesday.

The first question was retired engineer Brian Sowter who asked about parking places for electric cars, and suggested signs at pollution hot spots asking drivers to switch off engines when idling.

Cllr Lynda Murphy, Cabinet Member for Environment, said the issue was being looked in the parking strategy that was being developed.

She said 'no idling' campaigns had been run this year near Westgate school and in Highcliffe.

Another questioner Dr Mike Warwick-Sanders queried why all new dwellings are not required to have a zero lifetime carbon impact.

Cllr Jackie Porter replied that Government regulations prevented it.

Several questions were put in by people who did not attend the meeting. The answers will be placed on the council website.

Bill Bullen called for a change to guidelines to make it easier to install energy-efficient measures on a listed building.

Iona Maclean asked about the council introducing community composting for people without access to a private garden.

Elizabeth Harrison called for the council to ban the use of leaf blowers.

Gordon and Julia Clyne called on the council to retain the River Park Leisure Centre when the new one opens at Bar End. "There is more than enough demand for both."

Jaimie Mills, from Teg Down, queried the proposed closure of Andover Road and its diversion through Barton Farm.

"What I suspect may happen is it will just encourage more people to clog up the Stockbridge Road route, as people try to bypass the changes and head out to the A34 via Littleton/Harestock. So rather than improving traffic in and out of the City, it will inevitably be made worse.

"I do understand the idea of the closure is to encourage the people of Barton Farm to integrate and be part of Harestock and Fulflood. Encourage people to walk their children to school etc but I think it is poorly considered. The distance is just a little too far, especially given the weather in the UK for half of

the year. We have friends in Barton Farm and they drive most everywhere, with no plans to change.

"I appreciate the plan is to build another out of town car park/bus service there but I would suggest that most people in this day and age live such a rushed life they will inevitably prefer to drive. Myself as an example, on a Tuesday and Friday I drop my children at school (Western) and then have to get into Basingstoke for 9.30. I would love to be able to walk them to school, walk home and then make it into work but it is simply not possible."