"WHEN Debenhams goes ker-phutt" one Winchester city councillor would like to make more of the historic tower of St Maurice's church.

City councillors at the town forum were discussing the completion of the revamp of St Maurice's Covert on the High Street

Cllr Kim Gottlieb said: "When Debenhams goes ker-phutt can we get control of the tower? It would be a wonderful viewing gallery, apart from anything else."

He was referring to the High Street department store's chain chronic financial problems that has seen it close a number of stores across the UK. The store currently uses the medieval tower.

The tower is all that remains of St Maurice's church which was largely demolished in the 1950s. The tower is now leased by Debenhams.

The town forum was unsure as to the exact ownership. The council is about to undertake repairs after masonry fell off it earlier this year, said Richard Botham, strategic director. "Some essential repairs are needed, to make sure the tower remains safe."

Cllr Gottlieb said the fact that the council was undertaking such work implied it owned the freehold to the building.

Cllr Liz Hutchison said in the long-running history of the revamp of St Maurice's Covert "the long-term objective was to open that (the tower) up. That will be expensive but in the long term we could put an application in to English Heritage."

The Covert has been spruced up, cleaned, with new seating, bollards and the removal of the gravestones. A water fountain has been installed but it may be switched off because of coronavirus.

More work needs doing, Mr Botham said, including reinstalling the gravestones as well as displays and painting a mural on the walls by Greggs and better lighting

Forum chairman Kathleen Becker said: "The Covert as a whole is looking brilliant. It shows the city coming back to life after such a difficult time, good to see positive changes."