Portsmouth taxpayers to foot part of bill for repairs to Horatia House and Leamington House

Horatia House. Picture: Habibur Rahman

Portsmouth tower block strengthening could be ‘largest housing construction project in decades’

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TAXPAYERS look set to foot part of the bill to pay for the repairs to Horatia House and Leamington House, Portsmouth City Council leader has said.

Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, pictured, broke the news as he outlined Portsmouth City Council’s plans for residents in both tower blocks.

Leamington House in Portsmouth as hundreds of residents are told there is a structural weakness in the concrete. Picture: Malcolm Wells

Leamington House in Portsmouth as hundreds of residents are told there is a structural weakness in the concrete. Picture: Malcolm Wells

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The civic chief said the council will do what it can to find houses for everyone in the city. He said: ‘There are 250 properties which are currently occupied in these two blocks and we’ve got 70 properties available pretty soon.

‘We then have to go and find the rest of them and that’s going to be hard work but we’ve got nine months to do it and we’re confident we can do so.’

But Cllr Vernon-Jackson conceded that some people may end up living outside the city, if the homes cannot be found here in Portsmouth.

He said: ‘My hope is that we’ll find everything within Portsmouth and that nobody will have to be asked to go to Leigh Park so that people can continue with school and stay close with their family and friends. But the wider people cast their net the better their chances are.’

As for the repairs at Horatia House, the city leader said taxpayers may have to pay up, as he doubts Whitehall will provide the cash. He said: ‘It will be the taxpayer that pays in one way or another.

‘What we need to do is try to get central government to pay - this is something that was only found because the cladding came off after Grenfell; the government has offered to pay for all the recladding but we need to go back to the government and say that we need some extra money to do this. This is a Grenfell-related repair that we need to do - I’m never confident of the government stumping up cheques for anything, but we’ve got to ask.’

He insisted there were no plans to turn the tower blocks into student housing.