NEWS COMMENT: Taxpayer must not foot bill for Hard repair costs

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It was opened to much fanfare – a £9.2m transport hub the city could be proud of. But two years on from the massive makeover of the Hard Interchange it looks as if the busy gateway to Southsea from the sea, road and rail may have to be ripped up.  

The lightweight material that forms the surface of the area where coaches pick up passengers from will have to be replaced because it is beginning to sink. 

And Portsmouth City Council has admitted it will cost the taxpayer thousands of pounds to fill in the holes at the Portsea site. 

It’s hugely embarrassing that a landmark site, which cost such an eye-watering sum of public money – can crumble. 

The amount of money that has changed hands since the work began should have ensured Portsmouth had a transport hub that was fit for decades, not months. 

It’s a disgrace that the council must foot the bill for the repairs when contractors Osborne and designers RoC Consulting should be held responsible. 

It’s their below-par work that has led to this. 

It is almost inconceivable that this sort of thing can happen. We have to hope that Councillor Lynne Stagg is right when she tries to assure us the main structure is not about to fall into the sea. 

So what is going wrong? 

The surface is 45cm thick yet it is caving under the weight of the buses going in and out of the interchange. 

Around 160,000 passengers pass through the terminal every year. It is always full of tourists and commuters. 

The delays the work to rectify the situation will create once they begin in the autumn are really unacceptable. 

The city council will, inevitably, have to pay out for the repairs. But they must doggedly pursue the company found to be to blame for this embarrassing mess.