'˜Path to nowhere' row in Whiteley sees councillor kicked out of Facebook group

IT'S the road to nowhere that sparked a major row.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 20th April 2016, 6:27 am
The path alongside Cineworld in Whiteley that was closed by the town council due to anti-social behaviour fears
The path alongside Cineworld in Whiteley that was closed by the town council due to anti-social behaviour fears

And now it has flared up again over a community Facebook group.

Councillor Samantha Newman-McKie, from Winchester City Council, has been campaigning to remove a metal fence which prevents pedestrians getting to the new Cineworld complex at Whiteley Shopping Centre.

But now she has been banned from the Voice 4 Whiteley Facebook group – administered by the town council – because of her comments about the path.

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Cllr Newman-McKie said: ‘The issue here is not whether a footpath should be opened up or not but the conduct of some of the members of the town council in disregarding the wishes of the 92 per cent of local residents surveyed who want the fence removed.

‘In banning me from the community Facebook group for doing what I was elected to do – represent the views of Whiteley residents – I believe that the town council has made an unpopular decision worse and now cannot justify it with rational argument.

‘Local residents have been angered by the actions of the town councillors here, let alone the wastefulness of their local taxes.

‘It makes no difference to me personally. Everyone knows I am not defending my seat here in May but I am still the district councillor here and continue to stand up for local people. It’s all about democracy and respect and Whiteley Town Council needs to wake up.’

Nicki Oliver, town clerk for Whiteley Town Council, said: ‘There are strict terms and conditions for its use which Sam Newman-McKie failed to comply with despite warnings about her behaviour which resulted in her being blocked from posting on the site.

‘In addition to the general guidance for the Facebook site users councillors are required to behave according to a strict code of conduct ’

The path, which runs alongside the new Cineworld multiplex at Whiteley Shopping Centre, was closed by Whiteley Town Council.

It put up a metal fence to stop people cutting through to Meadowside Recreation Ground, which it owns.

The path had to be built as part of the planning permission granted to British Land to build the cinema complex from Winchester City Council. The town council objected after anti-social behaviour was reported in 2012 when people were using the point as an unofficial cut-through while the centre was being built.

Since Cllr Newman-Mckie was banned, a new rival Facebook group called Open the Whiteley Path to Nowhere has been started, attracting more than 200 ‘likes’.