LAST-MINUTE repairs were yesterday being made to a multimillion-pound transport hub – just days before a top minister officially opens it.
Workers were filling in potholes and tearing chunks of ruined tarmac out of the new Hard Interchange.
The work was the latest in a series of patch-up jobs undertaken at the £9.2m site since it opened less than a year ago.
Council officials were yesterday inspecting the hub ahead of roads minister, Jesse Norman’s visit to Portsmouth tomorrow.
It comes amid claims from a former council leader that the authority was entering into formal dispute over the design of the facility, something the council denies.
City Lib Dem leader, Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson said the council had set aside £1.2m in last month’s capital budget for ‘cathodic protection’ of the facility – work which will look to protect key metal supports under the interchange from corroding.
Cllr Vernon-Jackson said he had always been concerned about the cost of the new interchange.
‘The state of The Hard is appalling,’ he said. ‘It’s cost £9.2m for us to build a nice new bus shelter. Now it’s going to cost an extra £1m to finish the work.
‘Surely this should all have been done from the outset because that is a lot of money that is being spent.’
Labour transport spokesman Cllr Yahiya Chowdhury said: ‘This is a big investment for the area and needs to be fixed as soon as possible.’
Cllr Vernon-Jackson added: ‘This is not just a patch repair.’
A spokeswoman said: ‘We are not in any legal dispute with developer or any contractor.’
But she admitted the council was in ‘discussions’ with contractors.
The site was developed by Osborne, and last year won an award for engineering excellence.
Council members say the new transport hub is part of a £1.8bn investment for Portsmouth over the next 20 years.
Tory transport boss for the city, Councillor Simon Bosher added: ‘We are currently undertaking some temporary works to repair some areas of tarmac at the Hard.
‘We are working with the companies involved in building the interchange to investigate the issue and agree a permanent solution. While not ideal, this issue has not impacted services at the Hard Interchange and there has been no disruption to public bus and coach services.’
A spokeswoman from Osborne confirmed the firm was in discussion with the city council, added: ‘We’re not in a legal dispute.’