This website has been created for the residents of Abbotts Barton and surrounding areas so that you can keep up to-date with what's going on.

Apart from news you can find information about events, campaigns, and how to contact councillors.

Abbotts Barton Community Group is a community association which serves the people of Abbotts Barton and aims to act as a community anchor organisation. The main areas of work for the Group are:
  • ☐ To enable residents to find out how we can make where we live even better and do something about it.
  • ☐ To run events and activities for the benefit of inhabitants of Abbotts Barton.
  • ☐ To strengthen community participation.

Big Lunch 2014
We always welcome people to join us, it's easy and free and there is no obligation to do anything! Please see our Membership page for more info!

If you should be interested in helping out at events, as a street champion, or as a Councillor's Surgery visitor, please don't hesitate to get in touch! Also let us know if you have some ideas for events or skills that could be useful (e.g. face painting at the picnics)! Read more about how you can help on our Get Involved page!

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Thursday 28 November 2013

News roundup

Here I am again, Sylke from the Abbotts Barton Community Group, with the weekly news roundup! Just in case you were wondering, we are really only a very loose group, we don't have any fixed roles or even fixed members. I have been living in Abbotts Barton for the last seven years and via the SaveTheParks campaign I have started to look more into what is happening locally. When a friend had the idea to do a general community group despite not having any meeting place, I took on the internet side of things. I like to look for information and to distribute it - and these days the internet offers great opportunities to meet up and discuss things virtually. There are a few more people who are active (as in talking to councillors, or maintaining the notice board), maybe we could get them to introduce themselves here at some point too! If you would like to properly meet up with any of us, maybe just to get to know a few more people locally, give us a shout and I'm sure we can arrange something!

Riverpark Leisure Centre

This Monday we had the open meeting at the Rugby Club done by the Save The Rec group, and you've probably seen my write-up and Winchester Today's Winchester RPLC plans “like GCSE project”. Apart from the 200+ residents, there were also a number of City Councillors at the Save the Rec meeting; I recognised Jim Maynard (LD), Janet Berry (L) and Ian Tait (C)! There were a few more - but no other Conservative councillors.

Have you been to the exhibition done by the council? If you can't get there, take a look online where you can also fill out the comments form. Important: "The deadline for comments to be received is midnight Monday 2 December 2013."

WINOL's report:

Hampshire Chronicle wrote an article about the man who wrote the Save the Rec song. (By the way, I had to grin at a typo in the article 'Torist Information Office', is somebody trying to tell us something?)

The BBC reported about Edward Agombar, 11, in campaign to save Winchester’s River Park.

Council activities

WinACC reports that Climate change is back in Winchester's Community Strategy.


Hampshire County Council is investigating how people are using Winchester station and they even mention cycling! Another survey to fill out! It can be found on the MyJourney website. Hampshire Chronicle also ran an article about this: Transport chiefs survey Winchester Railway Station commuters

What do you think, should dogs be allowed in Hillier Gardens? At the bottom of the page there is a link to a survey asking exactly this!


Fruits of Fulflood collect surplus to give away or raise funding. Buy at St. Paul's 7.30 today (28 Nov).

Maybe cake is the way to go? Winchester community group celebrates 10th anniversary.


WinACC published their Transport Vision for Winchester to "set out the changes we need to make the city more friendly for walking and cycling". Here is a direct link to their PDF.

An interesting angle on fracking in the Guardian: Water shortages may make fracking impractical, industry says.

Has anybody used any of the four energy suppliers listed by WinACC? Renewable energy - without generating it yourself. I'd be very interested to hear reports!

Other news

As we are entering the cold and flu season, Doctors support campaign encouraging patients not to rely on antibiotics. Makes sense.

Disruption warning over car park expansion at Winchester Train Station.

This started this week: Roadworks due to begin next week affecting Easton Lane traffic. Has anybody here been affected and had to take long detours? Some more detailed info, also for next week: Highways Agency announces overnight closures of Winnall Roundabout.

Things to do

TODAY (28 Nov): This year's lantern parade in Winchester will take place today. If you haven't registered your homemade lanterns yet to take part, it's too late for that, but of course you can always go and watch!

So, today's children are slower than their parents were as children. Why not race your kids and see who wins?

At Winchester Discovery Centre there is a touring exhibition showcasing a superb selection of Japanese treasures. I haven't been yet but it's going to be there until 5 January so I'm hoping to get round to going there!

Has anybody been to the First Cut exhibition in the SeaCity Museum in Southampton? It looks really interesting and there's "only 8 weeks left until we wave goodbye to The First Cut! This is the last time the show will be seen. Sad times."

November is nearly over, but did you see those fantastic Dinovember photos going round the web? There is Welcome to Dinovember and also Something a Little Different at Eats Amazing! If my son was just a little younger I think he would have really enjoyed these cheeky dinosaurs, snooping around the house at night during November!


If you find the information presented here useful, feel free to forward the blog URL or email to your friends!

Tuesday 26 November 2013

The council's Leisure Centre consultation and the Save the Rec meeting

Yesterday morning I (Sylke) went to the Leisure Centre to see the plans that the council have provided for the public consultation. Like at other consultation before (I've been at two in Abbotts Barton) the boards were promising looking. But as we had been through an exercise like this before I was wary about what wasn't said there.

Out of the four options, to me Option 2 looked the most promising, this is the rebuild of the centre north of the existing centre. This option would mean that the centre is still close to where we live, as simple as that. I soon realised that there was no mention any more of the planned 300 extra parking spaces anymore - so I wondered how can that be? Not that I want them, but if those disappear like that, is there any certainty about anything planned?

Indeed, the plans are very vague, nobody knows how big a new building would really be and how much of the surrounding area would have to be converted into footpaths, emergency access roads, etc. So while maybe Option 2 looks easiest to achieve, and therefore the most tempting to vote for, there is loads of information missing.Without all of that we can't make an informed vote. We might get a monster and then we will be told that we voted for it.

So, in the evening I went to the open meeting that Save the Rec had organised. When I arrived just a couple of minutes late, the room was packed with people. There were probably about 200 people in there!

When I walked down, sadly I didn't see anybody from our side (Abbotts Barton) going down there but I saw loads of people arriving from the Hyde side. I'm not saying that nobody else from Abbotts Barton was there, but there was definitely a marked difference in where people arrived from. I wasn't very happy about that as North Walls is used a lot by people from our area too, and if we go by the letters some of our residents got from the council's officers when they were fighting the council's housing development plans for some of our green areas, all of us should be very concerned about what is going to happen to that green at North Walls! The gist was that we don't need as much green area in Abbotts Barton as we have North Walls so close by. Yes, soon all of Winchester will have to go there as the council is trying to fill many little green pockets with houses! And did you know that the council actually cut down on the open space allocation for play and sport earlier this year?

These are the new numbers (available in the report under business item 13 on this meeting page):
play: reduced from 0.8 ha per 1000 population to 0.5 ha per 1000 population,
sport: reduced from 1.6 ha per 1000 population to 0.75ha per 1000 population
The important bit is that Winchester Town has a shortfall under either the old standard or the new (lower) standard! We can't afford to lose more!

Back to the meeting. The presentation done by the Save the Rec group focused on the uncertainties about the given build options (I will try to find a link to the presentation for you, so that you can have a look for yourself). Just to give you a few examples of what needs to be thought about for Option 2:

  • Were you for example aware of the fact that the cricket field on the green in question right now is just big enough to be acceptable for competition matches; there are 50cm to spare, no more. So if the centre takes up another 5m or 10m (as is suggested on the information board) to the North, the field cannot be used any more for cricket. 
  • If the centre would be built there, there might be implications for the Winnall Moors Nature Reserve, simply because of light pollution.
  • This build would happen on the existing tennis courts: what would happen to that business during the two year that are apparently needed for building?
  • The options given are mostly without any financial information. Option 2 was the only one which had a little of that as it was the only one the council had been pursuing before the consultation exercise was set up.

People at the meeting said the information content on the boards was "worse than a GCSE project" and that the council is "taking us for mugs".

At some point it transpired that the city councillors had even more options on their desks: they were shown to some councillors and then disappeared. The one Conservative councillor who was there - if I got it right it was actually Ian Tait (I was on the other side of the long room) - got asked if he had seen them. I didn't hear the answer properly but it sounded like he had. So why were these options not fit for the public?

A vote was taken in the room about what the recommendation to the council should be, and there was nobody who would have voted for any of the options as they stand right now. Instead the opinion was that the none of the current options are acceptable and that the council should "go back to the drawing board" and give us better information. After all, this is a chance to build something good!

I believe one of the most important things said last night was that Save the Rec are not out to tell what we should vote for: their aim is to save a green area from being built on. However, there are many, many reasons why we should be careful with what we as individuals are going to respond to the council on the consultation! So I urge you to have a look at the boards (and possibly all the other information that's available) while you can and then let the council know your opinion, latest by 2 December! Don't forget you don't have to opt for any of the available options if you don't like them but you still have to tell that to the council so that they know that you are not happy!

Information available:
The council's Leisure Centre Project page.
Save the Rec group website.

Thursday 21 November 2013

News roundup

So the cold has finally caught up with us! Of course there is the usual scaremongering going on in the papers with predictions of snow. Yes, hide now, SNOW! If you are not scared too easily and want a laugh, have a read of this one: Britain to be hit by entirely typical weather!

Nevertheless, I have to remind myself that I need to start every car journey about five to ten minutes earlier, simply to get rid of the condensation in the car, to be able to see things. Here is some more good advice from ROMANSE online: Safety tips for driving in snow and ice. It's all about PREPARATION.

On that note, maybe we should all crotchet some stylish nose warmers?

Council activities

There will be a Winchester Town Forum meeting on 27 November (agenda items). If you are curious what the WTForum is spending money on, have a look at the file WTF 195 (part of the meeting agenda, see link); most of the money is spent on Recreation Grounds & Open Spaces. The other interesting part is what groups grants are being given to.

The way things always sound in the papers, you wouldn't expect that there are only four council tenants in Winchester who are affected by the benefits cap! I've found this piece of info in the PDF belonging to business item 8 of the upcoming Cabinet (Housing) committee meeting on 28 November (agenda items).

This is an interesting one, I wasn't aware that they want to use as few signs as possible on the new Andover Road route through the Barton Farm site: Councillors safety fears for Barton Farm. I've read about a German town just recently where they got rid of ALL road signs and traffic lights and managed to calm down traffic so much, that as a pedestrian you can step onto the road at any time without being run over. And still the traffic is flowing apparently. I think this works well when it's done properly but it might lead to problems when there is just a pocket of less traffic signs and drivers still behave like they are the kings of the roads because they don't understand what's going on. One thing is certain in my opinion; as soon as there will be the first accident the signs will be put up at Barton Farm.

For anybody who needs to drive into Winchester city centre, be aware that parts of Friarsgate car park in Winchester closed over safety fears.

Into cycling? Winchester South Park and Ride Cycle Track opens.

Riverpark Leisure Centre

According to Hampshire Chronicle River Park expansion proposals eroding public trust, claim councillors.

SaveTheRec was asking on Twitter: "Is the River Park exhibition a real consultation or fig leaf for WCC's 'preferred option' to build on playing fields?" What do you think?

Further, SavetheRec are asking a number of questions why the council seems to be so set on building on the green despite going through a consultation. The answers seem to be that there is a difficult contract DC Leisure and also that it is simply the easiest solution for the council. On top of that the council has not yet done any meaningful research in how much the different options would actually cost - so how can we come to a well informed conclusion on what would be the best option?

Saying that, have you been to the exhibition about the Leisure Centre plans yet? It's running until Monday 2 December and whatever your opinion on the plans is, I believe that we should use any and all chances we have to influence the politicians that have been voted into power by us. If you shouldn't have a chance to get to any of the exhibition venues, you can also find the Leisure Centre plans online - and there is also an online form that you can use to make your voice heard!

Winchester Action on Climate Change also posted a response to consultation on replacement of the River Park Leisure Centre.

Something more upbeat: here's a new version of the Save The Rec song, now with children's choir.


Winchester Nightshelter: "Items most needed for the cold weather: warm hats, gloves, socks, scarves, blankets."

Someone seeing you pick up a piece of litter might just inspire that person to do the same.

Health Care

Hampshire Chronicles reported about plans for the hospitals in Winchester: Future of Winchester maternity unit under spotlight and Health bosses want your views on hospital shake-up, consultation ends on 30 November. Health chiefs will then draw up proposals for formal public consultation. Please fill out the the full (or a shorter) survey to make your views known! And of course NHS chiefs defend plans which could see Winchester maternity services downgraded.


Friends of the Earth are not happy with HCC's stand on things: Hampshire County Council accused of towing Government line in fracking row. And: didn't the fracking companies say themselves that costwise this will make no difference for the end user?

I am much more in favour of these schemes even though some people think they don't look good:
Bid for huge solar farm near Winchester given the green light
Winchester planners back wind mast on proposed 14-turbine site at Bullington Cross

Worrying: England's parks and open spaces have lost £75m in cuts since 2010! And "a coalition of 41 UK environment groups warns that the Government is failing to deliver nearly a third of its natural environment commitments, despite huge public support for action for nature, wildlife and the countryside."


Are your smoke alarms working? Remember to replace the batteries in your smoke alarm once a year. Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service have all the advice needed!

Things to do

Today! Christmas Market and Ice Rink Opening Ceremony, at 6:30pm! Did you know you could do a Christmas twilight tower tour at Winchester Cathedral?

Winchester celebrates new arrival at Marwell Wildlife - I know it's cold, but the animals are still there! And who wouldn't like to see the anteater baby? :)

Something completely different: Knights in shining armour battle on Southampton Common

It looks like there will be great benches at Hockley Viaduct!  I'm sure the children will just love it and no doubt want to play trains on it - no chance for the grown-ups to sit down... ;)


Finally, what do you think? Too much, too young: Should schooling start at age 7? As a foreigner from a country where school starts at the age of six I wasn't too happy to send my son to school at four. He was definitely to young for some of it (and I made him stay at home on some days as long as I could), but in other areas he definitely benefited. What's your experience?

SavetheRec is organising a meeting for Monday!

Concerned about the future of River Park?

Are you a Winchester council taxpayer? Are you a duck-feeder, dog-walker, bike-rider, ball-kicker, nature-lover, child-carer, swimmer, gym-user, tennis-player, cricketer or kite-flyer?

Winchester City Council is consulting on the future of River Park / North Walls Rec – inadequately. Its ‘4 options’ are not costed, potentially misleading, and less destructive alternatives have been suppressed or ignored.

(You can submit your views online before 2 December.)

SavetheRec is hosting the open meeting the Council has failed to hold

When? 8pm, Monday 25 November
Where? Winchester Rugby Club, North Walls Park, Winchester SO23 7EF
Who? Anyone who wants to influence the Council's proposals is welcome.
Why? Because we all want improved indoor sports facilities at River Park but SavetheRec believes this must not – and need not – involve building on green playing fields.

Please note that SavetheRec as a group have no position on where the centre should go (or stay). Their concern is to make sure that no more of the park is concreted over.

You can connect with SavetheRec through Website / Facebook / Twitter

Thursday 14 November 2013

News roundup

I am so happy we are well into the second week of term, with everything being back to normal. That first week of back to school was simply too short for me with Monday being an inset day and having to catch up on 'everything' after half-term. And then I got this horrible cold which left me almost 'speechless' over the weekend... Enough moaning, I hope you all got well through the last seven days! And anyway, yesterday we had this:

If you ever see this mad woman hopping about in front of the house with a phone/camera/iPad in her hand to take photos of the sky, well, that's me! Come and say hello! :)

We also have a new banner on the website, suitable for autumn but still not the perfect autumn picture of the park for me. I'll try to get a better one!

Council activities

Have you made it to the 20mph exhibition? Friday is the final day! If not, the exhibits are available online as a PDF file. More information in this Daily Echo article: Plans go on show for 20mph scheme across Winchester city centre.

HCC have had hundreds of responses to their survey asking what services we value most, that's good. Have you had your say yet? Here is the survey link again: which county council services do you value most? Fill in the Hampshire County Council survey and help inform decisions on the Council Tax. Takes 10 minutes!

How long has this scheme been in the waiting? Winchester city centre Silver Hill scheme could get underway in two years.

Winchester Town Forum meeting - 27 November (click on the link to see more information)
Winchester (Housing) Committee meeting - 28 November (click on the link to see more information)

Riverpark Leisure Centre

Hampshire Chronicle reported: Winchester civic groups questions over River Park plans

A tweet from Winchester City Council: "River Park Leisure Centre exhibition starts next week (Monday 18 November). We're hoping to hear from you, tell us what you want."


Stay safe on social media: advice for all ages on the key social networking sites.

One can only dream... Dutch-style bike lanes set for roll-out in Bristol - Britain’s cycling capital

Saving money

Have you read about the Big Community Switch? This is a scheme to find cheaper gas and electricity suppliers, supported by Hampshire County Council!

On the Facebook page I asked if anybody is using a meal planner, be it software or a piece of paper. I've started doing this when my son was little as it greatly helped me with organising our days and also doing a more efficient weekly shop. If they plan at all, most people seem to be simply using pen and paper, whereas I ended up with an Excel sheet that now covers several years! I was asking because I wanted to find out if anybody had a better means as I've found that there are also software and apps out there that can help a lot (also to organise recipes) and I am currently trying something called Pepperplate (with mixed results). If anybody here has any experience on the topic, please come forward and let us know!


There was plenty on the news over the last days about the ship building job losses, then I found that FlyBE also want to cut 500 jobs. Scary, as I fly out with them twice a year to go and visit my relatives in Germany.

Things to do

The Christmas Lights in Winchester will be switched on TODAY at 6pm outside Guildhall Winchester. The Winchester Christmas Market will run for 32 days: Thu 21 Nov to Sun 22 Dec. Open daily, 10am-6pm Sun-Wed & 10am-7.30pm Thurs-Sat.

It might not be the perfect weather right now but please don't forget that we have several great green areas in Abbotts Barton that can be used for outside play or other activities even in the rain! Maybe we should organise a bug hunt for the children to see what they can find? Or what about an autumn leave gathering event so that you can make your own leaf garland at home? Any other creative ideas are welcome!


On that note, find some inspiration for doing things outside: Swap Some Screen Time for WildTime! On the linked page you will find a link to an app that you can use to find projects for 10 minutes, 20 minutes, and so on.

Wednesday 13 November 2013

Safety alert!

Please be aware of a suspicious incident on the 11th November in Abbotts Barton where a male purported to be a police officer and showed identification to a local resident and suggested that his car was at risk of being broken into. His motives were not clear, but residents should be mindful of any callers and if in doubt, disengage, close the door and report it to the police straightaway on 101.

NEVER allow cold callers into your home!

Monday 11 November 2013

Typhoon Haiyan

I'm just hearing on the radio about the terrible damage and loss of lives caused by typhoon Haiyan.

The Guardian reports: Typhoon Haiyan: desperate survivors and destruction in flattened city

If you haven't already done so and can spare a little please think of those who have to get on with their lives in the Philippines despite what happened.

Here are some charities you could donate to:

Disasters Emergency Committee Philippines Appeal
British Red Cross
Save the Children

Friday 8 November 2013

Councillor's Surgery Visit

Jane and I (Sylke) went to the St. Bartholomew Councillor's Surgery (first Thursday of every month, 7:30-8:30pm at Hyde Parish Hall). Jim Maynard was there to talk to us.

We only talked about a few subjects this week, so there is not a lot to report this time:

Council house development

Councillor Maynard told us that there will be a Council meeting (not a public one) on 28 November to talk about the houses to be built in Abbotts Barton. This of course set our alarm bells ringing immediately and Councillor Maynard didn't have much more information to offer on this, but we are generally assuming that it's simply a meeting to go on with the process for the planning applications for the selected areas (down Hillier Way and the garage sites), based on seeing something like this happening for Westman Road in Weeke as well, where the Council also continued with the planning despite only wanting to build there in about three years (like in Abbotts Barton).

Riverpark Leisure Centre

We were of course generally curious about the Leisure Centre controversy and asked what happened at the Council meeting Wednesday evening as I had heard that something was supposed to be said despite the Leisure Centre not being on the agenda. It turned out it wasn't much more than what had been published in the Council's press release from the day before, with Council Leader Keith Wood announcing the exhibition to show the options the Council has.

I was also wondering what would happen now to the Skate Park project with the plans for the area being very unclear at the moment; Councillor Maynard suggested it might be best for these plans to be made part of the whole scheme to get the best out of the area for all parties.

The next Councillor's Surgery will be on Thursday 5 December 2013!

Thursday 7 November 2013

News roundup

For most people it was back to school this week, with Halloween, bonfires and fireworks all done now! I hope you all got out of it safe and sound!

Thank you to all the kind people in Abbotts Barton who opened their doors to the Trick-and-Treaters last week, our little gang had a great time! And I think I managed to scare some little ones with my big nose as well! :)
We also really appreciated all of those superbly carved pumpkins: I think we (as in little grim reaper and mother witch) have to do better next year, ours looked like beginners' versions next to the pieces of art we saw around the neighbourhood! Some people also prepared very special Halloween treats, see what our own 'Eats Amazing' had on offer.


According to Hampshire Chronicle there were about 19,000 people at the annual Winchester Bonfire/Fireworks. What I'd like to know is whether they got more or less money for charity now that they have used tickets. It seemed like there was a little less crazy parking going on this year in Abbotts Barton. What's your impression?

There are updates to the Abbotts Walk car break-in post from Monday:
  • The sheet music has been found, albeit without the bag. 
  • On the bad side, there were more news about break-ins in the area: the police posted a letter to residents in the Francis Garden area which mentioned a 'theft of car', however we are not quite sure whether this really means that a car was stolen or simply something was taken from a car (in which case it should have been 'off' I believe). Also I've been told that something has been taken from a van at Austen Close but the van might have been open, so that one was really an opportunity theft. 
Please keep your eyes open, lock your car (also on your drive!), and in case you spot something suspicious call the police on 101.

Council activities

Today: Is there anybody who would like to join us on our monthly Councillor's Surgery visit?

On Wednesday evening there was a Cabinet meeting and the agenda didn't include any obvious items referring to Abbotts Barton and the Leisure Centre controversy. However, late yesterday there was a tweet from Save The Rec:
Now I am all curious what was going on, hopefully we can find out at the Councillor's Surgery tonight.

Dates have been announced for the Riverpark Leisure Centre exhibition, it "will run from 1pm on Monday 18 November to Monday 2 December at two venues: the River Park Leisure Centre at North Walls and Guildhall Winchester in the city centre. [...] For those unable to attend the exhibition, all the information and the chance to respond will also be available on-line via the City Council’s website from 18 November."

The two-week exhibition on proposed 20mph for Winchester is now open! Information can be found "at four venues – the Tourist Information Centre at the Guildhall, the BID offices in Parchment Street, the Winchester Discovery Centre and the Brooks Shopping Centre (ground floor) – from Monday 4 November to Friday 15 November."

It is National Adoption Week (4-10 Nov) - HCC are looking for adoptive parents from all walks of life: County Council asks 'Could you adopt a child?'


Winchester Nightshelter tweeted: "The first truly cold weather arrived. We'd be grateful for any spare blankets or sleeping bags as we frequently give these out at night."


WinACC have published a summary of the responses to the Winchester Community Strategy survey. While a high percentage of those who filled out the survey have supported climate change being a priority, it is shocking that only 204 people actually responded to the survey! Winchester City Council's summary of responses can be found here.

Greenpeace UK had this article running: "Fracking bosses: "It’s like pushing sh**e uphill. Why anti-fracking campaigners should take heart"

Things to do

Today: Fancy a visit to the Winchester Science Centre (Intech Science Centre and Planetarium) without children? Here's your chance! But I also recommend a visit with children, the exhibits have been renewed, things have been arranged differently and almost everything seems to be working!

If you like to be out in the woods, this new Woodland Trust website might be for you: VisitWoods.org.uk

The Winchester Christmas Lights Switch on runs from 3pm-7pm on Thursday 14 November and will be held on The Broadway, next to the Guildhall.

Monday 4 November 2013

A request from Grace re a break-in

UPDATE (5 Nov): the missing organ music has been found, without the bag, but still! Sadly I've also heard this morning that a car got stolen from the Francis Garden area. Not good!


We received this message from Grace this morning: 
"A good friend of mine moved into one of the new houses yesterday, and last night his car got broken into! All that was in there to be stolen was a very nice bag full of organ music.  We think it's very possible that the music may have been dumped once the person who took it realised what it was" 
Could you keep an eye out for this? For all we know it might even have landed in somebody's bin! If you find anything please let us know through a message on the contact form.