New £2m Portchester Community Centre opens its doors to public

MILESTONE Cllr Connie Hockley, community leader Lucy Redfern, community manager Jane Gillespie and Fareham Borough Council's leisure development manager Gareth Satherley. Picture: Sarah Standing (1346-750)
MILESTONE Cllr Connie Hockley, community leader Lucy Redfern, community manager Jane Gillespie and Fareham Borough Council's leisure development manager Gareth Satherley. Picture: Sarah Standing (1346-750)
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A NEW community centre has opened its doors to the public.

The £2m Portchester Community Centre hosted its first sessions yesterday for dance groups and the pre-school which will now call it home.

And curious members of the public have been dropping in regularly to have a look.

The development of the centre has been dogged by controversy but the new managers are hoping to put that all in the past.

They already have 15 groups and organisations signed up to regular sessions, with inquiries about hiring the facilities pouring in.

Community leader Lucy Redfern said: ‘It’s really exciting for us, we haven’t had any bad feedback at all.

‘Everyone so far has been so impressed with the facilities and been won over when they have the chance to see it for themselves.’

Community manager Jane Gillespie said: ‘We’ve got community groups, children’s groups and we are putting on a programme ourselves.

‘We just had someone in who was interested in netball, which we don’t do at the moment, so we want to hear what people want.

‘We’ve been getting lots of inquiries.’

Cllr Connie Hockley, who is in charge of community matters for Fareham Borough Council, said: ‘We had a blank sheet of paper and £2m, and look what we’ve achieved with it. I’m very proud. It gives me goosebumps.

‘It has been delivered on budget and nearly on time, and I just hope the residents of Portchester will enjoy it. I’m sure they will.

‘And I would like to thank everyone who has been involved in the project, from the builders to the council officers, to members of the task and finish panel.

The old centre, next door at Westlands Grove, will now be demolished.

A fundraising welcome dance is being held at the centre on February 15 from 7.30pm to 11pm. Tickets cost £7.50 each or £14 for two and include a ploughman’s supper.

The event is for over-18s only and you must bring your own drink. They are planning a family open day for the near future.

Miss Redfern added: ‘It is a fundraiser, but it’s also about giving people the opportunity to come in and have a look at the centre, and see what’s on offer.’

For more information drop in at the centre during office hours or call (023) 9232 1787.