Decision on who runs new Portchester Community Centre to stay

COMING SOON The new Portchester Community Centre
COMING SOON The new Portchester Community Centre

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A BID to force senior councillors to reconsider their decision over who will run a new community centre has failed.

Portchester councillor Roger Price had asked for Fareham Borough Council’s scrutiny board to look at the decision of its ruling executive to offer the lease for running the £2m Portchester Community Centre to Portchester Community School.

The school was offered the lease ahead of the only other candidate, Portchester Community Association (PCA), which has been running the current centre at Westlands Grove, for 50 years.

Cllr Price put forward a number of reasons why the matter should be reconsidered, including how scores given to the applicants’ business plans were reached, and accusations of bias in a council report against the PCA.

Cllr Sean Woodward, leader of the executive and Cllr Connie Hockley, chairwoman of the panel which made the recommendation to the executive on who should get the lease, were grilled by the board on their decision making process.

At the end of last night’s four hour meeting, half of which was carried out in private so confidential financial matters could be discussed, the board voted by seven votes to two not to refer it back to the executive.

Making the proposal for the vote, Cllr Nick Gregory said: ‘What we have heard today in public and private session indicates that the process was carried out to the code of conduct.’

Cllr Price said afterwards: ‘I’m disgusted at the decision. I think people had closed minds about what they wanted to do, and they have been closed since day one.’

Sarah Moss, manager for the PCA, added: ‘The fight doesn’t end here.’

The PCA is pursuing legal means to challenge the decision.

No-one from the school attended the meeting.