WINCHESTER MP Steve Brine said the much-derided Big Society was alive and well in the city.

Addressing the annual general meeting of the City of Winchester Trust, Mr Brine said few places could match Winchester for its community spirit.

He said there were 531 registered charities in the city compared to 326 in Bath which is more than twice the size.

“I would argue Winchester has a very big society but we can always do more.”

Mr Brine said civil society will become more important as the size of ‘the state’ shrinks.

He is supporting the idea of the ‘Winchester Penny’ where shoppers will be encouraged to donate change from purchases to the nearest pound.

The proceeds would go into a community chest to be handed out by a local board of trustees.

The meeting also saw the launch of Winchester Old City New Views, a snapshot of the city through the eyes of teenagers.

Four teenagers read poems – Lucy Strange from The Westgate (The Beggar), Isabella Symes from St Swithun’s who read Lydia Rosen’s Wolvesey Castle, Matthew Roller, from Winchester College (Everyman Cinema) and Harry Talks (The Winchesters Rifle Brigade!) from Kings’.

There were some 250 entries and 54 were chosen for the book published this month by the trust and available from local bookshops priced £9.99.

Trust president, Prof Joy Carter said: “It is a beautiful piece of work.”

Richard Baker, member of the project and editorial team, said: “The trust felt the need to re-engage with young people, and invited them to illustrate and write about any aspect of life in Winchester of their choice. The book, offers an imaginative and perceptive snapshot in time of Winchester through the eyes and minds of young people.”

Concerns were expressed by the dwindling membership of the trust, down to 682 on March 31. Treasurer Peter Radcliffe blamed “age” for the decline.