A FRESH political row has erupted over the future of The Pyramids Centre.
Councillors are disputing the level of the damage done to the Southsea venue by torrential storms earlier this year.
As reported, David Williams, chief executive of Portsmouth City Council, said in a statement that flooding had ‘destroyed’ all electrical and mechanical equipment within the building.
But when Councillor John Ferrett, Labour group leader, referred to Mr Williams’ description of the damage at the latest meeting of the full council, Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, the council’s leader, said it was untrue and accused him of ‘electioneering’.
Now Cllr Ferrett has written to Mr Williams demanding to know what the full extent of the damage is, since the situation is unclear.
Cllr Ferrett said: ‘This should be extremely concerning to residents in Portsmouth that either the chief executive, or the council leader, have misled councillors and the people of Portsmouth on the extent of the damage to the Pyramids Centre.
‘It is imperative that people know the true scale of the damage in order that they can make a judgment as to whether the spending required to repair the centre is justified.’
The Pyramids, run by BH Live on behalf of the council, is closed until repairs are carried out, and it is expected not to reopen for some time.
Cllr Vernon-Jackson said Cllr Ferrett had implied the whole building had been destroyed, which wasn’t true.
‘The stuff that was underwater has been destroyed but most of the building wasn’t below water,’ he said. ‘It’s a very small point.’
Meanwhile, the cost of repairs is more than £500,000. The council would have to pay the first £100,000, but its insurance company would cover the rest.
BH Live’s insurance company will cover any claims the firm makes for lost earnings.
In a statement circulated at the meeting, Cllr Vernon-Jackson, said: ‘Work on the repairs programme has started and is progressing well.
‘Officers and BH Live have been exploring how this unexpected closure period presents an opportunity to bring forward a number of elements of both parties’ repairs and maintenance schedule works.’
Cllr Ferrett said Mr Williams has told him he needs to talk to officers first before writing a full reply. Mr Williams was unavailable for comment.