Comment: Time to make building more accessible

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Hiring out parts of the Scottish Parliament building for corporate events has got to be a good idea.

Concerns about the cost of maintaining Enric Miralles’ intricate £414 million creation are growing at the same rapid rate as the annual repair bill. With annual maintenance costs having passed £1.7 million, one trenchant critic has even claimed it will be cheaper to redevelop the Holyrood site by the end of the decade than to keep on patching it up.

That is probably a little far fetched, but the building – whether you love it or loathe it – has proved a huge drain on the public purse.

Anything that can help to cover those costs, even if they are small sums by comparison, has to be welcomed.

The rental of rooms has already raised more than £20,000 in six months without being fully marketed. The sums that can be made once word gets around may not be a king’s ransom, but they are far from insubstantial.

But we should not just stop at opening the building to companies or individuals that can afford to pay for the privilege.

The Scottish Parliament building clearly should be open equally to all, regardless of their means.

This though may be one of those rare situations where we can have our cake and eat it.

Why not open the same rooms that are being hired out for private functions to community groups?

They could be made available on different nights for special occassions like prize-givings or to invite MSPs and the public to come and learn about what they do.

Any cost involved could be covered by some of the money raised by the private functions staged on other nights.

In this way the parliament could help cover more of it growing running costs and make itself even more accessible to the public.

The only pity is that it has taken 11 years for the full potential uses of the Holyrood building to be realised.