Library flooding damage ‘cost the public £50,000’

Portsmouth Central Library
Portsmouth Central Library

Six people arrested in police anti-drug operation

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TWO teenagers caused a library to flood after leaving taps on in the toilets – costing the taxpayer £50,000, a court heard.

The 16-year-old boys – who cannot be named for legal reasons – are accused of causing criminal damage at the Norrish Central Library in Portsmouth’s Guildhall Square.

Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court heard that taps in the third-floor men’s toilets were switched on, the plug left in and that water poured through the library from 7.28pm on August 18 until the next day.

Insurance covered some of costs – which totalled more than £150,000.

But when asked by prosecutor Colin Shackel how much Portsmouth City Council had to pay to help rectify the damage, library operations manager Susan Main said during evidence: ‘I believe around £50,000.’

The library was shut for five months while repairs were carried out, including re-carpeting the building, replacing computer equipment and fixing electrics. Some irreplaceable books were also destroyed when water cascaded through the building.

Mrs Main told the court she was alerted to the flood early on August 19 by a staff member and arrived at the scene at about 7am.

She said: ‘I had to wade through [the water] on the third floor.’

Prosecutor Mr Shackel said: ‘The Crown says we can time the flooding being visible in the third floor to 7.28pm on the day in question because we can see it on CCTV.

‘Obviously somebody has turned those taps on before 7.28pm on that day. The Crown says that there is set procedure for dealing with this particular end of the library. On this particular day the lift closed at approximately 4.30pm. Once the cafe’s closed, the other rooms on that floor aren’t being used. It is then for a member of staff to close down that whole part of the building to public access.’

He added: ‘The Crown’s case is whoever had turned those taps on had subsequently gone into that part of the building. It is the Crown’s case that it is [the defendants] because their movements are recorded on CCTV.’

The teenagers deny criminal damage. They were bailed to appear again in court in April.