When a local authority is spending nearly £40million of taxpayers’ money on any one project, rigorous scrutiny of its plans is expected. However, when it comes to Winchester City Council’s new sports and leisure centre, one wonders if critics are wasting time flogging a dead horse.
Like something out of the movie Groundhog Day (coincidentally, Groundhog Day took place just two days before Monday’s council meeting), opposition Lib Dem councillors and sports activists rally again and again against the decision to reduce initial plans for a 12-court sports hall to eight. And at meeting after meeting, the decision is defended, Conservative councillors citing ‘experts’ and ‘consultants’.
Of course, the Lib Dems should be scrutinising the council, as is their duty as the opposition, but if they were in power and went against expert advice, they would be torn apart by critics.
The council has heard testimony from some clubs that usable hall space is hard to come by, but policy makers have the unenviable task of making the new facility good enough for everyone, rather than perfect for just one.
All that being said, the move to reduce the sports hall’s size was taken at a Conservative-controlled cabinet, rather than a vote of all members.
At least everyone can agree on one thing: Winchester needs a new leisure centre – and it looks like the city is going to get it soon.
Source: Hampshire Chronicle