Winchester Labour are keeping up the fight for quality redevelopment of Silver Hill as promised, in the face of a damning independent report on the City Council's management of the scheme that concluded that the Council acted unlawfully and calls for an overhaul of procedures. At a meeting on Wednesday night Labour Councillor's proposed that the Council's Overview & Scrutiny Committee accept the report but this was defeated by the majority Tory group.
Patrick Davies, former City Councillor and St. Luke ward candidate called for more transparency saying 'the secretive "reference group" of decision-making councillors and officers has causes much of the problems; the council needs to get back to meeting in public."
Karen Barratt, also a previous Councillor and Labour candidate for St. Paul Ward added "I don't want to get into accusations of corruption. There is a more insidious problem, it's a cosiness that develops, an arrogance where anybody outside members and officers is somehow not worth listening to."
Andrew Adams, Party Vice-Chair and candidate for St. Luke summarised Labour's position as follows -
'Over 6 months ago in June 2015 at a full Council meeting, the Labour group, together with a minority of other councillors, voted in favour of terminating the development agreement. Our concerns included the extent of the commitment to build a new bus station and affordable housing in the scheme. The aim must be to provide a town centre that serves the needs of Winchester and all of its residents, and which all residents feel part of and proud of. This development is at the heart of our historic city and the end result must be a scheme that substantially improves the social, economic and environmental well-being of the area, and is fit for residents now and for generations to come.'
This scheme has been marred by mis-management and bungling from the outset by both Conservative and Lib-Dem Councils. Labour will continue to fight for the best possible scheme for Silver Hill that meets the needs and aspirations of the people of Winchester. In their local election manifesto Labour are calling for a total rethink on how the council approaches major schemes and an urgent strategy for consultation so that everyone can feel that their views matter.