In the Chronicle article published on February 14 (“Uncertainty over date for demolition of River Park Leisure Centre”), it was said that the council has funds in place to demolish the old Leisure Centre building. 

Green councillor Malcolm Wallace asked cabinet about the declining state of the building, saying: "It's difficult to understand the delays and why a site in a prime Winchester location is being left to go to rack and ruin."

Friends of River Park agree with Cllr Wallace, except we would point out that this is not ‘a site in a prime Winchester location’. It is an important part of the park that currently forms a vital part of the city's main green artery, running from Winnall Moors Nature Reserve to St Cross. The Leisure Centre building is increasingly derelict and urgently needs to be knocked down, perhaps to be replaced by green grassland until the public can have a say in what happens next. 

It is an eyesore, a health and safety issue, a magnet for antisocial behaviour and vandalism and it will continue to cost the taxpaying residents of Winchester at least £80,000 per annum to keep it as it is. If the funds are in place, why the delay?

Moreover, the Recreation Ground is not currently being properly managed by the council. Photos taken show areas of the park which are waterlogged, muddy and dangerous. Surely, after the heavy rainfall experienced recently, consideration should be given to cancelling/postponing events or to protecting the worst areas of the fields – for the benefit and safety of all users of the park. And last year’s large events left behind a mess which hasn't yet been tackled by WCC, despite persistent requests for action.

Winchester residents deserve the opportunity of putting forward alternative, viable, desirable uses for the River Park site. The only way of securing this is to stop the council’s misguided plans. Friends of River Park invite your support for our continuing challenge: 

Rose Burns,
On behalf of Friends of River Park,



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