Portchester Community Centre bell that does not ring starts bit of a ding-dong

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THOUSANDS of pounds are to be spent on a bell tower – with a bell in it that does not ring.

It has been added to the plans for the new Portchester Community Centre after proposals were put forward by Hampshire County Council.

It is planned for the bell tower to be placed over the main entrance to the centre, which is being built next to the old community centre in Westlands Grove.

The cost of the bell tower is estimated to be around £6,700, and this will be met through developer’s contributions from a housing development in Portchester, so will not come from taxpayers.

The bell placed in the tower will be ornamental and will not ring.

Some residents and councillors are angry and think the money could have been better spent elsewhere.

Stella Bell, of Cornaway Lane in Portchester, said: ‘This money from the developer’s contribution was meant to be used for something for the community in Portchester.

‘I was horrified when I heard about this. Why is the money being spent on this when it could be going on something useful?’

The Portchester Community Centre task and finish panel, which is overseeing the project, voted five members to one in favour of the bell tower.

Councillor Roger Price, who voted against the tower, said: ‘I totally disagree with the money being spent on a bell tower when that money could have been put to much better use.

‘It could have been used for extra facilities or improving something within the centre. Instead we have a bell tower which is no use whatsoever – it’s a sheer waste of money.

‘We put a bell tower on top of the new parish rooms, but that was replacing something similar on the old building, so it was mirroring that, but this is a straightforward community centre.’

The council’s contractor HA and DB Kitchin is working on designs.

The ground was broken on the long-awaited centre in February, and it is hoped that it will be completed and open before the end of the year.

The centre is being funded by £1m from Hampshire County Council for a children’s centre at the new site, and a further £1m loan to Fareham Borough Council from the county.