Richard's Journal

Portsmouth and South East Hampshire Chamber of Commerce
Breakfast Meeting, Tuesday 12th September 2006
Langstone Hotel, Hayling Island, Hampshire
"A New Vision for Havant Town Centre"
Frank Campbell, Corporate Director, Havant Borough Council
Joy Okwuadigbo, Head of Regeneration Services, Havant Borough Council


The text of the Chamber Flyer for the meeting read:

Breakfast Briefing

Havant Borough Council

A New Vision for Havant Town Centre

In November 2004, the Havant Town Centre Task Force commissioned Roger Evans Associates Limited (REAL) to produce and Urban Design Framework for the Town of Havant.

The Framework sets out a robust and dynamic spatial vision for the Town of Havant. It will act as an important tool for securing high quality and appropriate development, and for targeting resources into management and improvement.

The briefing will introduce the visions and design concepts for the Town Centre and where we need to go from here to achieve the visions.

In May 2006 the Council hosted a Developers and Investors Day in the Park in the Town Centre. At this event around a hundred hand picked potential investors were invited to come and see the opportunities identified in the Framework first hand. This has resulted in a buzz of interest in improving the Town Centre and a number of definite commitments to take some of the development projects forward.

Join us to hear more about this exciting vision for the future.


The Meeting

I attended the Chamber Business Breakfast Briefing at the Langstone Hotel, Hayling Island.

I was expecting the event to be in the same place as before, with the breakfast, again, a stand up affair in the corridor outside the room in which it was to be presented; that did not turn out to be the case.

I had arrived a little later than intended. Over the other side of the bar, to the left, was an open section, into another room, with several large round tables, with people sat eating, as well as walking around. For some reason I still assumed that the meeting was at the same location as last time. I walked down the corridor to the left of that room, past another open door into it, then realising that it probably was the Chamber meeting. I went in and Jane Nash, of the Chamber of Commerce, was to my right, so it did turn out to be the right place.

I started to go along the line of food dispensers to assemble a plate of breakfast, though there was no alternative to bacon and sausages. I mentioned that to Jane Nash, whereupon arrangements were made to provide a couple of vegetarian sausages. A very helpful member of staff, offered to take my plate and keep it warm while they prepared the vegetarian alternative.

I had almost settled on a table when Jane Nash suggested I might like to consider a table nearer the front, for the presentation. That was the first time I realised that the presentation would be in that room. For some reason I thought we were to have breakfast and then move somewhere else, to a room more like the one we had used before.

There were two tables at the front, at one of which, to the left, was Frank Campbell. It was many years since I had seen him and it took a few seconds for me to be sure who it was. It did not make much sense for me to sit at that table so I chose the right hand one; at which were there men.

The person I sat next to turned out to be Nick Brown of Strategic Planning Solutions. We ended up having quite a long conversation; small series of conversations.

Jane Nash introduced the Presentation but had difficulty pronouncing the name of a woman who, it turned out, was accompanying Frank Campbell, Joy Okwuadigbo.

As it turned out, Joy Okwuadigbo was there to represent the Regeneration, Tourism, part of the Presentation in a support role rather than contributing to the Presentation, itself. 

Frank Campbell’s presentation, as Nick Brown also said in his E-mail the next day, was quite good. As I thought and pointed out to Nick in the reply to that E-mail, presenting is one thing, delivering is quite another.

When it came to the questions at the end of the presentation, there were several, including one which brought a response from Frank Campbell, or had he said it in his presentation, that the Council was committed to tourism.

That commitment to tourism was odd considering that the Council had closed down the tourism office in Havant.

I said that I had been trying to contribute to Havant for several years but had to go outside the County (of Hampshire) for business advice and support; that I had a side, aspect to me, involvements, with an autobiographical book coming out in the near future, that was worth a great deal to Havant and the region from the tourism point of view.

At that point, Joy Okwuadigbo chipped in from her position at Frank Campbell’s table, to say that she wanted to speak to me, me to her, she was setting up a Group concerned with tourism in Havant, wanted me to be part of it, contribute to it, that sort of thing.

Joy later came over to my table to take my details; I gave her my business card and I asked for hers,

Although she did not have her cards with her, Joy went back to her table and soon returned with one.

Before I left the meeting I had a final brief conversation with Joy Okwuadigbo.

She said, “Oh, thanks”, looking slightly taken aback.

I did not bother to explain to her, at the time, that I had started to publish all of my communications on my Journal Web Site, the Web Site, simply because it was the only way of being heard in Havant and had the added bonus of usually prompting a reply from Havant Borough Council, though even that was not guaranteed. Even when there was a reply, it rarely, if ever, a full reply; there was usually a degree, at least, of avoidance.

Because of my conversation Joy Okwuadigbo said, in relation to me being involved, or not, I guess, something along the lines of, “As long as it’s not controversial.”

I had come across similar comments before. In “Havant Council speak”, “controversial” means, among other things, anything which conflicts with the approach of the Council, the Council version of events, or is inconvenient in any way to the Council especially if it could go into the public domain.

As of early August 2007, I had still not heard from Joy Okwuadigbo, though, according to Council literature, there were tourism related meetings in late 2006 to which I could have contributed and informed local tourist business people about the impending books, though I was unaware of the magazine articles that would develop at that time.