DOZENS of people were left furious after being told at a meeting that the council would not discuss the matter the majority of them had come to discuss.
Fareham Borough Council leader Cllr Sean Woodward told people who came to the Portchester community action team meeting that he could not talk about the management of the new £2m Portchester Community Centre.
About 100 people packed into the Portchester Parish Rooms, leaving a further 60 who wanted to attend stuck outside.
But Cllr Woodward said he would hold a second session immediately afterwards for those who couldn’t get in.
Cllr Woodward faced question after question about the centre, but he said: ‘When I come to these meetings I answer questions on absolutely everything and anything, but when the council solicitor says to me you can’t talk about who runs the new community centre while there’s a threat of legal action. I have to abide by that.’
And he added: ‘The centre will open as scheduled in the autumn.’
The council has offered the lease to run the centre at Westlands Grove to Portchester Community School, but the choice has proved unpopular with many locals.
There is also anger at the way the school was chosen.
The only other candidate, Portchester Community Association (PCA), which runs the existing centre, is preparing an application for a judicial review of the decision. A petition of 1,511 names backing the PCA was previously handed to the council.
Figures revealed in a freedom of information request by The News showed that councillors dramatically overturned their officers’ opinions on who submitted the better business plan.
Mike Moore of Shearwater Avenue was among those who couldn’t get in. He said: ‘There’s a general grassroots feeling that this process requires further investigation.’
David Tanner, of Quintrell Avenue, runs a computer club at the centre and said: ‘If there’s a political reason behind this, the Tories are doing themselves a lot of damage.’
Jill Jackson if Jubilee Road added: ‘I’m totally fed up – knowing how much interest there is, why did they book the smallest hall in Portchester?’