£1.8m Holyrood security watchtower plans slammed

The move was prompted by the attack on the Canadian parliament last year. Picture: Ian Georgeson
The move was prompted by the attack on the Canadian parliament last year. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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Scottish Parliament bosses have been accused of over-reacting after announcing that another £1.8 million is to be spent beefing up security.

A watchtower is to be created at the entrance to the car park and service yard on Holyrood Road as part of a six-month project which the presiding officer said was prompted by the attack on the Canadian parliament last year, in which a lone gunman shot dead a soldier on ceremonial guard duty.

But MSPs said the move was “over the top”.

Lothian Tory MSP Cameron Buchanan – who warned earlier this year the parliament was at risk of looking like Barlinnie prison – said the measures were “a complete waste of money, a total over-reaction”.

He said: “They have had a recommendation from the security people that they need a watchtower because they can’t see what is happening the other side of the gate when it is closed.

“But it’s a load of rubbish. We don’t have that kind of problem in Scotland.

“It’s ridiculous to spend all that money on something which is totally unnecessary.”

In a letter to MSPs, presiding officer Tricia Marwick said the cross-party Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body (SPCB) had commissioned a review of security following the shootings at Parliament Hill in Ottawa in October last year.

Gunman Michael Zehaf-Bibeau fatally shot Corporal Nathan Cirillo, before wrestling with a guard and running into the parliament building, where he was killed in a shoot-out with security personnel.

Ms Marwick said the security review recognised the “robust” arrangements already in place at the parliament, but recommended additional measures to “reflect the changing nature of the threat at home and abroad”.

As a result, the SPCB agreed there should be an upper-storey extension to the service yard gatehouse, a free-standing security kiosk in the service yard and a new cycle turnstile.

She added: “We believe the current work is prudent and proportionate in the current climate.”

Work is due to start early next month and be completed by May next year at a cost of £1,873,000.