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New £30m police HQ is riddled with faulty water pipes
8:48am Saturday 12th January 2013 in News
IT is the £30m iconic police station that is a landmark on the city skyline.
Towering six storeys, offering panoramic views and with a state-of-the-art custody centre, it was billed as one of the most modern stations in the country when it opened for business 22 months ago.
But today the Daily Echo can reveal how Southampton’s police headquarters is riddled with leaking pipes that are going to force major reconstruction work at the Southern Road site.
For several months maintenance staff have been dealing with repeated complaints of water leaks on many floors of the station, which is home to hundreds of officers and police staff.
Lifts have also been put out of action due to flooding in the shafts while it is understood there have also been problems in the plush 36- room custody suite that was said to be among the best in the country.
Police chiefs say the entire cold water system will now have to be replaced due to “faults in the pipework” which will most likely see workers on several floors being moved out while the work is carried out.
The Daily Echo has been told that Kier, the contractors who built the station, have admitted full responsibility for the problems and will be picking up the bill – not Hampshire taxpayers.
However, the county’s new police and crime commissioner, Simon Hayes, in charge of the force’s finances, has not ruled out that legal action could also be taken against the firm, which has offices in Southampton, saying: “It depends on how they respond to the difficulties that we as their client have”.
The work will most likely mean that the custody suite will have to temporarily close to allow workers access to the pipes under the ground while inside the main building it is hoped they can carry out repairs through walls and ceilings rather than tearing up carpets and flooring.
A temporary cell block could therefore be set up on a piece of council-owned land adjoining the station, which is currently derelict, although no final decisions have yet been made.
The repair work inside the station will be phased on a floor-byfloor basis to cause as little disruption as possible but police chiefs are not saying if it will mean staff being relocated to buildings and stations they have moved out of such as Shirley, Lyndhurst and Hulse Road.
Mr Hayes told the Daily Echo: “The bottom line is that the contractors have taken full responsibility for what has gone wrong and they will paying for what has gone wrong in its entirety so there will be nothing taken from the public purse whatsoever.”
Describing the problems as “a mistake” he said it appeared that the pipe work was not done correctly and not tested out before the building was handed over to Hampshire Constabulary.
David Pryde, assistant chief constable of Hampshire police, said: “Southampton Central police station requires the cold water system to be replaced.
This is due to a fault with the pipe work but it poses no risk to the staff or users of this building.
“The timetable of work which will be covered by the building warranty is still to be agreed and a full consultation process will begin shortly to identify an appropriate way to minimise any potential disruption to day to day business.
“Remedial work is due to commence and is looking to be completed on a floor to floor basis.”
ACC Pryde added that “a whole range of options” were now being considered and they would be working to minimise disruption to staff.
Ian Burrell, Kier Construction senior contracts manager, added: “We confirm that there is a fault with the pipework but this does not present a risk to staff or end users of the building.
“Remedial works are to be carried out under warranty and a suitable programme is to be agreed with all interested parties to ensure the work is carried out with the minimum of disruption."