We have some encouraging news. The council recently commissioned a report into leisure centre options. In a recent release (link below) it was stated that in light of this, the working group will only be recommending that plans involving the footprint of the current site or Bar End will be recommended. These recommendations were approved at a recent council meeting.
We welcome this development and will continue to monitor the impact any new leisure policies will have on the Rec. Whatever option is chosen the Rec will remain vulnerable, and it is important that the full implications of the final decision are understood.
Press release: www.winchester.gov.uk/news/2014/oct/leisure-centre-update
A Grand Day Out!
An estimated 2500 people turned out on Sunday 4 May to enjoy a Grand Day Out organised on North Walls Recreation Ground by the Save The Rec group. One spectator summed up the importance of this Winchester asset and the purpose of the day: “What a great, happy day for all ages to enjoy a free open space. Long may it remain.”
Chairman of Save The Rec, Sir Anthony Walker, said, “There was an important issue underlying all the fun. Save The Rec is dedicated to resisting built development on any part of the recreation ground. In particular we oppose a City Council suggestion that the tennis courts, all‐weather football pitches and part of the cricket field could be used for a new build leisure centre and car park.”
The dog parade, judged by local folk‐punk star Frank Turner, attracted 150 contestants for tongue‐in‐cheek classes: “waggiest tail” and “most like its owner”. Some came to play cricket, to try their hand at tennis, rugby, canoeing, bowls, rounders, croquet or one of the other activities laid on. Many brought a family picnic and just lazed in the spring sunshine.
Tug‐of‐war saw the women triumph over the men, nothing to do with raising twice the number of tuggers. The Save The Rec Ukulele Band provided the musical headline and rounded off with Save The Rec’s anthem “Jumpers for Goalposts”, specially composed by Andy Martin.
The more serious cricket competition was won after a four‐team tussle by St Giles CC who just beat The Racqueteers to become the first side to hold the King Alfred Trophy, presented to them by the Mayor of Winchester, Cllr Ernie Jeffs. Local MP Steve Brine enjoyed the day’s activities, accompanied by his family and Popcorn, the family’s dog.
A register of support for Save The Rec’s campaign attracted many signatures from across the city and beyond. People were also invited to leave their personal memories of the Rec, some touching, “had my first kiss here 30 years ago. Happy days” wrote one woman. Some raised a smile, “walked round here to try and start my wife’s labour. It worked, 12 hours later our son was born”.
Serious allegations regarding the contracts for the existing leisure centres have been raised by a local resident. Questions include "why the 12-year contract [with penalty clauses payable by the taxpayer] was entered into when it was generally acknowledged that the 40-year-old "leisure centre was falling down”?
A BBC 2 documentary was screened recently on the search for King Alfred's bones in Hyde. The conclusions are complex, but underline the importance of River Park as an archaeological site.
The council have published the results of their (somewhat inadequate) consultation. We conclude that there is no support for building on the recreation grounds (zero votes), and even option 2 that threatens to overshadow the cricket pitch was only liked in 17% of the 895 responses. The responses also show widespread support for our campaign.
Our open meeting on 25th November attracted 230 people. It culminated in a vote in which there was unanimous support for rejecting the consultation as lacking in sufficient information and options.
We have a protest song written by Andy Martin (ukulele teacher at the Hyde Tavern)!
Click on the buttons below to access documents from the city council and press reports.