Outrage as council contractor makes a mess of common

WHAT A STATE The muddy mess left on Southsea Common at Ladies Mile.
WHAT A STATE The muddy mess left on Southsea Common at Ladies Mile.
Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan at the Scrap The Cap rally, held in Guildhall Square

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A COUNCIL contractor paid to plant budget flower beds has been blasted by residents for ‘vandalising’ Southsea Common.

Kent-based firm English Landscapes was forced to apologise for damaging the grass on the popular seafront playing field – and promised it will pay for all the repairs.

Deep, muddy tyre tracks were left along the north side of Ladies Mile by diggers and trucks, which the company has admitted should not have been used during wet weather.

As part of their work putting in ‘sustainable borders’ the firm also left a pile of earth and large holes in Castle Field.

Roger Learner, 54, of Lennox Road South, Southsea, said it was disgraceful to make such a mess of the city’s best-loved green space.

‘It is really just an act of vandalism – the common is important to Portsmouth and we should be proud of it, not let cowboys tear it to pieces,’ he said.

Now English Landscape has assured Portsmouth City Council that the common will be put back exactly as it was before the work started.

The councillor in charge of culture, sport and leisure, Cllr Lee Hunt said: ‘It is right that they apologise if they have caused damage, but in the past they have always done a good job looking after the common.

‘And the new borders they are installing will be better for the taxpayer and better for the environment.’

The council is trying to save money by installing plants which will survive all year round and don’t have to be regularly replaced.

A spokesman for English Landscape said: ‘We are sorry there has been damage to some areas of the grass, but we will make sure we relay the turf afterwards.’

But for Clarissa Brown, 62, who lives on Clarence Parade and overlooks the damage, it is too little, too late.

‘They have made a disgraceful mess,’ she said.

‘It was fine the way it was before, there’s no need to change it. Everything else is being cut, why not leave the common alone?’

Seamus Meyer, the council’s parks and recreation manager, said: ‘English Landscape has reassured us that any damage will be made good at their expense once all the work is complete.’