THE relocation of a Winchester doctors surgery serving thousands of patients will be completed by specialists.

Winchester City Council will employ primary healthcare developers to erect a new building for St Clements, currently on Tanner Street.

The new base will be in the Upper Brook Street car park – and some cabinet members are not against selling off the freehold of the land, rather than just leasing it.

Speaking at the Cabinet meeting last Wednesday, Conservative councillor Hugh Lumby warned of the risks: "We could end up in a worse situation if we sell the freehold. Selling the freehold means we could lose future incomes that could one day be crucial.

"I am against that sale – please keep other options under review."

Cllr Stephen Godfrey agreed."Bringing in people who know what they are doing is a fine idea, but the issue is losing control of what is going on," he said.

"The risk of borrowing at the moment is low as the Bank of England rate goes down.

"There is a much greater risk of possibly losing sound GP services for 18,000 residents in the centre of Winchester.

"If we do not drive forward to make sure the service provided by St Clements are retained, then we as the city council will be seen much responsible for the loss of a much used service."

The plans are still being reviewed by council officers and will be further debated at a future cabinet meeting.

Cllr Malcolm Prince said: "We've listened to all of the arguments that have been submitted and at this stage it would not be correct to rule out any options.

"With the current uncertainty relating to the health crisis, it would be very unwise to rule anything out."

Cllr Jackie Porter added: "These plans are still under consultation. We are thinking of ways to make sure that this health care hub in the centre of Winchester is the best it can be."

St Clement's is due to relocate from Tanner Street but the move has been beset by delays with the doctors concerned about some of the terms and conditions.

The Tanner Street site is owned by city councillor Kim Gottlieb, who had been trying to sell it to the city council for more than £2 million.