Local Issues

05 Sep


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.
27 Aug


Parking charges could be introduced at all coastal car parks in the Borough of Fareham to help close the projected funding gap, made worse during the COVID-19 pandemic. But parking charges in Fareham town centre would continue to be frozen and new app-based systems to pay for parking could be introduced alongside cash and credit card payments if proposals are agreed.
A report to go before Fareham Borough Council’s Executive on Monday 7th September recommends the introduction of charges at all coastal car parks at Swanwick Shore, Warsash Shore, Meon Shore, Hill Head beachfront and Portchester Castle.
If approved the decision will bring Fareham into line with all other councils along the south coast from Cornwall to Kent.
One recommendation on the table is for a £3 charge for a four-hour stay between 10am and 6pm. Other options to charge by the hour will also be considered.
The proposed rates are in line with neighbouring Gosport where charges range from £3.50 to £4 for a four hour stay and considerably less expensive than Hayling Island where the charge is £5.80. It is hoped the charging will encourage a greater turnover of users at busy car parks in the peak months, allowing more residents to enjoy easy access to the Fareham coast.
The new charges could generate up to £900,000 income for the Council each year which would offset some of the losses the Council has made during the pandemic, cover the costs of upgrades and improvements to the car parks and new payment machines. It could also be used to help fund a much-needed £5.5M refurbishment of the Osborn Road multi-storey car park in the town centre which will make it more attractive and user-friendly. The proposals for this will also be considered at the September Executive meeting.
Enforcement in the car parks will be conducted by the recently formed General Enforcement Team , which is also taking a more proactive role in tackling environmental issues such as littering and fly tipping.
It is also proposed to have:
•new pay-on-foot machines for Osborn Road, Fareham Shopping Centre and Market Quay car parks;
•new solar powered pay-and-display machines for the coastal car parks;
•Meon Shore car park upgraded with improved surfacing and marked bays;
•dragons’ teeth and height barriers in Monks Hill and Salterns car parks;
•consultation on a Traffic Regulation Order outlining any required changes to parking restrictions;
•consultation on free car parks where the time waiting limit is deemed too long.
For some time Fareham Borough Council has been the only local authority on the south coast of England that has not charged people to use our coastal car parks, but now we must consider it.
The Council must explore all available revenue streams open to it and it is fairer to charge people who want to use the car parking facilities that we provide and maintain than to simply add more to everyone’s Council Tax bill. We have deliberately kept the rates low – lower than our neighbouring authorities – and been flexible with the times that charging is in force to allow for early morning and evening use to remain free of charge.
I am pleased that we are able to continue to freeze the day-time parking charges in Fareham Town Centre which have now been frozen for over a decade and I hope this will continue to encourage people back into the centre for shopping and leisure.
25 Aug


It was an honour to join The Right Reverend Bishop Christopher Foster, The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth, for a short service at the foundations of the Cornerstone Church of England Primary School Whiteley and chapel space in today on a very windy aftenoon.

The new 630 place Church of England (Aided) primary school, designed and built by Hampshire County Council will be opening in September 2021 on its new site off Bluebell Way.

I was pleased to be joined by Flick Drummond the local MP and Cllr Roz Chadd Hampshire’s Executive Member for Education. This has been a long fight to get the school agreed for a suitable site and funding. It has also been a 30-year wait for Whiteley Church to finally get a permanent physical home. I hope that the children of Whiteley enjoy a really enriching education in the new buildings and that the parishioners of Whiteley Church find inspiration in their new surroundings.