SIR: As an elected Winchester City Councillor for Alresford and Itchen Valley, I consider it important that our market towns have a voice in Winchester City Council’s decision making.

On 22nd June I spoke at the Business and Housing Policy Committee. I was disappointed to note that, despite feedback, market towns, including Whiteley, still do not have their own current Covid-19 recovery plan.

Communication during the first lockdown between market towns and WCC was very poor and sadly some businesses missed out on grants, despite the best efforts of officers. The current administration needs to ensure that market towns are included in all planning and plans.

With no changes made despite feedback a motion was put to Council on 7th July proposing that an effective plan for business recovery across the whole district be put in place. I was due to second the motion as a representative of a market town and rural district area, but I was stopped by the Cabinet Member for Economic Recovery who deliberately stifled my contribution to the debate. It is regrettable that, as the market towns struggle to be heard, a deliberate move was made to silence their views.

As chair of Alresford Chamber of Commerce, I am in a unique position to speak about business recovery for market towns. I will always fight for our rural communities who are continually disregarded. Our residents elect councillors to represent their needs effectively. I was, therefore, very disappointed to see that the two other councillors representing Alresford and Itchen Valley voted against the motion for an effective plan.

I will continue to represent my ward in the best possible way, to hold others to account based on fact not personal views and to speak out on any inequalities that others either don’t recognise or ignore.

Cllr Fiona Isaacs,

Winchester City Councillor for Alresford and Itchen Valley,

Windsor Road,