WINCHESTER Liberal Democrats have come under fire for ‘hijacking’ a road safety campaign.

The Kings Barton Residents Association has been lobbying for a crossing of Andover Road following a fatal accident involving a pedestrian.

A residents association petition to gather support had been unusually strongly-worded to criticise the county council which is controlled by the Conservatives. The petition began: “We are appalled at the lack of action proposed by Hampshire County Council.”

Some committee members have been dismayed that the campaign has been adopted by the Lib Dems and put in one of their political newsletters being delivered door to door.

Now the chairwoman of Kings Barton Residents Association (KBRA) has written to the Chronicle to assert its political independence. And Caterina Zucca on social media said “nor did KBRA give permission for details of our petition to be published in a political leaflet.”

Read the letter here

Kings Barton resident Martin Halfpenny criticised the Lib Dems for playing party politics and hijacking the issue: “KBRA wanted to set up a petition and the Lib Dems basically hijacked it, said they would collect signatures, put it on their own website and in political leaflets. The residents association has now had to put the petition on to look less in bed with the Lib Dems.

“All political parties need to stay out of local organisations like residents’ associations or community groups and it is very concerning that the Liberal Democrats have tried to hijack and manipulate what is a non-political road safety campaign to gain votes.

“That the incredibly important issue of young children’s safety has been politicised is reprehensible and those Lib Dem Headbourne Worthy city councillors and their activists should consider realigning their moral compasses and work more for the common good and less for political gain.”

Mike Slinn, vice-chairman of the KBRA and a member of the Lib Dems, told the Chronicle: “I was not involved with the Lib Dem leaflet which came as a complete surprise to the KBRA committee. We are very disappointed that the issue has been politicised, that is why Caterina Zucca has written you the letter.

“I am a member of the Liberal Democrat party but I wouldn’t call myself an active member! I had nothing to do with the recent Lib Dem leaflet headed “FOCUS Special on Kings Barton”. 

The Chronicle understands that city MP Steve Brine, who supported a photocall on Andover Road last month with parents and the headteacher of the new Barton Farm Academy, had warned members of the association that their criticism of the county council was unwise and might harm their cause.