A RALLYING cry has been made for a community to stand united.

Following a public meeting on Thursday, ward councillors in Winklebury have asked residents to act as a united voice when having their say on the future of the former Fort Hill Community School site.

As previously reported in The Gazette, the secondary school in Kenilworth Road has been closed since June this year, with Hampshire County Council (HCC) exploring various avenues as to what to do with the empty site.

With the county council now putting out tender to demolish the buildings, ward councillors Angie Freeman and Ruth Cooper have said residents need to push for what they want to see the to-be-rebuilt site used for.

At the public meeting held at the Sycamore Centre, Cllr Cooper told residents they unequivocally do not want the site to be used for housing.

One of the options that is being explored, and is favourable in the ward councillors’ eyes, is to turn the site into a purpose built medical / community centre.

Cllr Freeman said: “As part of the Winklebury regeneration I have been talking to the Clinical Commissioning Group [CCG] about using the site as a medical centre and it is something that they also seem keen to push.

“The lady I spoke to from the CCG appears to be very passionate about the idea and is a good ally to have on our side.”

During the packed meeting, residents raised concerns that the county council “would do what they want” and they had “lost trust” in any decisions being made from Winchester.

One resident said: “The county council run the school down so much there was no other choice but to close the school, it was always their plans to close it.”

With an increased need for housing across the borough, many in attendance at the meeting raised concerns the site would be used for a small volume of new homes, which with the Manydown development on the horizon, residents did not want.

Cllr Freeman added: “If they [HCC] want houses they are just going to get a lot of push back from us as it is not what we as a community want.”

Cllr Cooper added: “If they want to go ahead and build houses there I will personally lay down in front of the bulldozer to make sure it doesn’t happen.

“We have continually been let down by the decisions made by the county council. We cannot let them get away with this anymore.”

The two Winklebury ward councillors on the borough council are urging residents to give their feedback to the county council to make sure the community’s voice is heard in what is decided for the future of the Fort Hill site.

The decision to close the secondary school was taken by the county council based on a lack of pupils who had applied to join the school for the last academic year.