I must confess that when I was asked what the name should be of the new venue replacing Ferneham Hall my instant answer was – Ferneham Hall. I was then reminded of the history of the venue which in financial and usage terms is far from a happy one. When I became Council Leader in 1999 the venue was losing £750,000 per year and while we have been able to make significant reductions in that figure it has never failed to make a loss. The reasons for that are legion but I am strongly advised that, while we do have residents who are faithful to the brand, if those are the only people we can attract then the new venue will also not be a success. Ditto for the show promoters.
With the above in mind, and the fact that the Council is proposing an investment of some £12.5m in what is an entirely new facility, there is a strong view from those far more expert than me in these matters that to retain the name is setting us up to fail. We need to be able to attract far more users than those the hall had when it closed plus we need promoters and user groups in greater quality and numbers respectively. That will be far more likely to happen with a new venue and a new name. It is for this reason that the Council has not included Ferneham Hall as an option. I do however feel very strongly that the name Ferneham must be included somewhere in the new venue for nostalgic reasons amongst others. The names that are being consulted upon do generally resonate with Fareham’s history and I am sure that the new venue will make its own reputation which I know will be bigger and better than the old.