Parliament bar - ‘Decision hasn’t been given a second thought’

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ONE criticism often thrown at politicians is that they live in a different world to the rest of us.

It’s the reason why Cabinet Ministers are so often asked whether they know the price of a pint of milk or a loaf of bread.

Rightly or wrongly, there is a widespread perception that they are out of touch, part of a cosy elite who always end up alright, no matter how hard the rest of us have to struggle.

That is especially true right now in the middle of the worst double-dip recession the country has seen for more than half a century.

So you would have thought that creating a new bar in the Scottish Parliament at a cost to taxpayers of £75,000 would have prompted a 
little reflection.

Is it really necessary when the existing parliamentary bar and restaurant are being under-used? Especially when there are a number of popular watering holes little more than a stone’s throw away?

At least, once the decision was taken to press ahead with spending public money on it, you might expect a pause to consider for a moment how it might look to the public.

But, no, it doesn’t appear to have been given a second thought.

No glimpse will be allowed of the bar which our taxes have paid for, not even to see just how modest or opulent it might be. Not a single photograph is to be allowed, either before or after the opening.

So, having paid for the refurbishment, you are being told “you can’t come in” – unless you are lucky enough to get an invitation from your MSP – and “you can’t see what your money has been spent on”.

Has nothing been learned at a parliament which cost more than 100 times its original estimate and took three years too long to build?

If you are going to spend public money on a new parliamentary bar, the least you can do is have the decency to hold the door open long enough for everyone to take a peek.

A tidy result

Today’s news that a record number of litterbugs are being hit in the pocket is good news.

Edinburgh’s band of environmental wardens have the power to enforce on-the-spot penalties and shouldn’t be afraid to use it – 
responsibly of course.

There will be those who are cynical about the wardens’ new-found focus on dishing out fines at a time when budgets are being cut. But when those fines are being handed to people who are treating the Capital’s streets like a dustbin, then who cares? Edinburgh is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, let’s keep it that way.