SIR: After the slowest election count in the country, Winchester has a new city council. Except that it doesn’t really. The changes are minor, the lead party is still in charge. And of course the officers are mostly still there. I’m told some of the newcomers are good - certainly there are some impressive CVs, although I know how difficult it is, first to get one’s head around the Byzantine processes, and then to make any actual impact against the entrenched attitudes.

Even before the new members were sworn in, yet another consultation on North Walls/River Park has been launched - without actually mentioning the white elephant in the park, the about-to-be-redundant leisure centre. Nor does it mention the indoor bowls structure, which could as well be on an industrial park. Its windowless expanse is a blight on a sensitive site. But it is allowed to stay, and the consultation proceeds by ignoring it, just as it turns its back on the river and the trees.

This consultation follows an earlier one which reported in 2019, and a small-scale Covid-era one last September - which also avoided mentioning the two buildings. Many of the remarks made during that most recent session were sensible, such as noting that Winchester used to have several freshwater lidos. Another consultee said “The park has an informal character. Care should be taken not to the spoil this by adding flashy things.” People made modest requests like seating. So naturally the new consultation proposes ‘inspiring artworks’ and a ‘grand archway or totem feature to celebrate arrival’.

One of the best responses to last year’s consultation was ‘the park is not broken so why fix it?’ In fact the Save the Rec campaign of 2013 could be said to have succeeded for once, as the open green space is still not built on. Will the campaigners mobilise again to prevent the grand archway? Surely the latest plans will trigger more dismay.

The trouble with all us letter-writers is that we don’t charge enough. If only we charged the amounts WCC pays to its myriad smart firms, perhaps we’d be listened to.

Judith Martin,

Romsey Road,


SIR: I fully agree with last week’s letter writers on the subject of North Walls Park (Chronicle, Letters, May 27). Of course there are questions about the River Park Recreation Centre site and support needed for the sports grounds, but the Park itself does not need gimmicks.

If city councillors want to see what can be achieved without grandiose “attractions” they should should visit Romsey’s Memorial Park. That is a huge success with only a simple cafe kiosk, public toilets and some ducks.

Richard Evans,

Fordington Avenue,