A better solution for Whiteley

Winchester City Council has suggested to Hampshire County Council that there are alternative options that would not only provide a much needed school for Whiteley, but also make the most of the recreational facilities which the Whiteley community needs.

In a report that will go to Cabinet on 22 March the City Council's Cabinet is recommended not to agree to the County Council's current proposals for building a new school on part of the Meadowside recreation ground at Whiteley. The report explains a recent consultation exercise carried out by the County Council failed to show that there was majority support for the proposal.

But Winchester City Council does not believe that the County Council should stop considering other options and has put forward another option for the County Council and the community to consider. It asks the County Council to consider whether the full size playing pitches and cricket square at Meadowside could be re-provided at Leafy Lane, with a purpose-built pavilion comprising changing and showering facilities plus car parking. This would allow all the sports clubs to have a purpose-built home and work on these could be started with minimum disruption to their playing seasons. These new facilities would be provided by Hampshire County Council.

By making better use of the space available in Whiteley it would enable the skateboard park, tennis court and children's play area to remain in their current popular locations. On the remainder of the space a junior sized football pitch could be created to keep the opportunity for other casual use. Another added bonus of this proposal is the potential for expansion of the Meadowside Leisure Centre should this also be needed.

The City Council also believes that other options which the County Council has ruled out could also be re-examined.

Cllr Sheila Campbell, Leader of Winchester City Council, said, "The City Council is very concerned about the future of schooling in Whiteley. We supported the campaign for a new school when the County Council was saying it was unnecessary and we are delighted that they changed their mind. But the County Council cannot expect the community to accept the argument that there is only one option. We are looking ahead, not just at the current needs of the community, but also providing opportunities for future needs in terms of expansion of facilities. We have proposed alternatives solutions and we hope that the County Council will continue to talk to us about these.

"If the school is shoe-horned into the corner of the site as currently proposed then Whiteley will lose out. By providing sports pitches elsewhere the land in the centre of the village can be utilised in a better way.

What is imperative is that the County Council does not reject our suggestions out of hand. If it does so then the people of Whiteley should ask them why."