A NEW public consultation over the public's thoughts on the future of Winchester has been branded "gimmicky" by a local civic activist.

The city council has launched the #onegreatwin initiative to ask people about the future of the city.

But Patrick Davies, a senior member of the City of Winchester Trust and a former Labour city councillor, criticised how it was being done.

He told the town forum: "I remain very concerned about the way it is being handled. I appreciate the very unusual circumstances in which we find ourselves but the presentation given by the consultants at the last town forum has never appeared on the council website," adding that what was online was hidden away.

Mr Davies added: "I'm far from convinced that this is an appropriate expenditure of £75,000 of council tax payers' money. It is a very gimmicky website. They want a gallery of selfies documenting the city during isolation. It doesn't seem an appropriate way of driving this Winchester vision, or a way of doing sensible planning."

The exercise will not draw up a plan as such but aims to help guide planning decisions over the next 10-15 years.

Town forum chairman Kathleen Becker said the public consultation had been affected by coronavirus so the meetings and face to face consultation had not yet happened. But the consultants have contacted 60 people since the last town forum on March 19.

Cllr Becker added: "We have been in extraordinary times and officers have been diverted, working from home and it hasn't been business as usual. We have been focussed on offering key services."

Working groups would be established in September and the consultants would be out and about meeting people as the lockdown rules are relaxed.