Cost to city of fire at Joanna’s runs into thousands

COSTLY The blaze at the former Joanna's nightclub and inset, Harry Redknapp
COSTLY The blaze at the former Joanna's nightclub and inset, Harry Redknapp
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HARRY Redknapp’s insurers may have to pay out thousands of pounds to Portsmouth City Council after the fire that destroyed the former Joanna’s nightclub.

The council has confirmed it will ask for cash to cover the money it paid out in the wake of the blaze. The cash went on repair works and sheltering and feeding nearby residents.

OWNER Harry Redknapp

OWNER Harry Redknapp

The council has confirmed costs of £4,554 so far, but is awaiting invoices from firms which it believes could take the final figure as high as £70,000 to £90,000.

The South Parade building, owned by the former Pompey manager’s firm Pierfront Developments, was gutted by fire on Tuesday, August 9, and the council stepped in to offer temporary shelter to around 60 people at a nearby Holiday Inn.

Most had been staying at the Royal Beach Hotel, but 17 residents of nearby flats had to be housed until the end of the week, when it was safe for them to return home.

Holiday Inn has not yet invoiced the council, but The News has been told the accommodation for 17 people cost £4,554. The council, which will pay for all of its response to the fire from its general reserve fund, must also pay the Salvation Army, which provided food and drink for those affected. It also faces staff overtime costs.

But by far the biggest cost will come from work to make the building safe, with building contractors effectively demolishing the fire-damaged shell.

It was scheduled to take five days, but has lasted more than two weeks, with work still to be finished.

Although it has yet to receive an invoice for the work, the city council’s building control department has confirmed it believes it could cost a ‘high five-figure’ sum.

And when the claims from businesses have been paid out, the council will go to Mr Redknapp’s insurers to be compensated for the cash it has spent.

Council leader, Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson said: ‘We responded to the aftermath of a fire on privately-owned land.

‘It’s the right thing to do, and we wouldn’t ever stand by and say we won’t do anything until the insurance is sorted out.

‘Our priority, as it should be, is to ensure people affected are safe and have somewhere to stay until things are sorted out.

‘But we expect this will be dealt with, as usual, by the company’s insurers, as these costs have been incurred because of a fire at their building, on land they own. So we hope they will pay us for the work we did.’