Repair work needed again at £9.3m Hard transport hub in Portsmouth as legal row rumbles

FRESH repairs are needed to a £9.2m transport hub amid an on-going legal row over who is responsible for its persistently-crumbling surfaces.

By Tom Cotterill
Wednesday, 26th January 2022, 5:30 pm

Temporary repairs are set to take place at The Hard Interchange from Wednesday for two nights, which will see its damaged road surfaces being patched up.

The work is the latest chapter of defect woes to have blighted the multi-million pound Portsmouth site since it opened in May 2017.

It comes as a bitter legal quarrel over who should shell out the cash needed to fund the repairs of all the defects appears to have stalled.

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The Hard Bus Station by night. Picture: Charles Cope from Gosport

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The dispute between the terminal’s designer RoC Consulting and contractor Osborne has paralysed the scheme for almost three years, with the Portsmouth City Council left locked in the middle of a war of words over who is responsible for the defects.

The result means the council can only carry out patch repairs as and when needed until a resolution can be reached between the arguing firms.

Councillor Lynne Stagg, the authority’s travel and transportation boss, said: ‘We're sorry to inconvenience local residents and businesses with this work but it's essential that we carry out the temporary repairs, and we're very grateful for everyone's patience and understanding.

A previous photo of workers repairing the sinking surface of The Hard in 2020.

‘We aim to completely replace the surface which will alleviate the current problems and enable the Interchange to withstand wear and tear for many years to come.

‘However, we need to complete discussions with the designer and contractor before we can start on a more permanent solution. In the meantime, we will continue to make small repairs to keep it operational.’

Speaking to The News, council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson admitted the legal talks remained at a standstill – but insisted the taxpayer would not have to bear the brunt of the financial fallout.

Asked if he was disappointed by the legal limbo facing the council, Councillor Vernon-Jackson said: ‘Because of Covid things are going very slowly through the courts. But the advice from the (city council) lawyers is we’re confident the amount of money that is spent will be reimbursed.’

The Hard Interchange. Picture: Portsmouth City Council

He added that despite the faults and surfacing flaws, The Hard was a vast improvement over what previously occupied the site.

‘The Hard is so much better than it used to be,’ he said. ‘It used to be a real eyesore between Gunwharf and the historic dockyard.

‘It is now so much better and operates well. If you can think back to that terrible public loo that was there before – it was just awful. So I’m really pleased we did it.’

Anyone with concerns about the latest set of repairs is being urged to call city contracting firm, Colas, 023 9231 0900.

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