Scottish Parliament repair bill hits £13 million

The parliament building needs constant and specialist upkeep. Picture: Pako Mera

The parliament building needs constant and specialist upkeep. Picture: Pako Mera

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REPAIR work on the Scottish Parliament building has cost almost £13 million since it opened ten years ago.

The bill – which includes both “planned” and “reactive” maintenance – has climbed steadily from £314,680 in 2004/05 to £1,785,729 last year.

The £12,784,455 total takes in such work as the regular re-varnishing of the “bamboo” poles outside MSPs’ windows and around the exterior of the £414m building, as well as items such as the £49,000 to repair granite cladding panels which came loose in strong winds.

But it does not cover the new £6.5m security extension added at the front of the building, the millions more spent on other security measures such as turnstile entrances, concrete bollards and a triangular roundabout, or the £500,000 to install extra toilets.

Lothian Labour MSP Kezia Dugdale pointed out the ­maintenance bill was almost one-third of the original £40m estimate for construction of the building.

She said: “At the end of the day it’s our national parliament and it should be a building of significance we can be proud of. But when maintenance costs are a third of what people thought it would cost to build, you have to ask hard questions about whether we are getting value for money.

“And if the parliament is allowing these costs to go on increasing, we need to ask harder questions about who is doing that work and whether we are getting the best deal.

“I’m not sure there is enough scrutiny of how decisions are being made about spending money on the building.”

She said although the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body included representatives of the political parties, who reported back to their groups, these reports often came after the money had been spent.

“The public will scratch their heads and wonder who is ­making these decisions,” Ms Dugdale said.

Independent Lothian MSP Margo MacDonald, who died earlier this year, warned repeatedly the unique design of the Holyrood building would mean permanently high maintenance costs as nothing could be “off the peg”.

And earlier this year, architectural writer David Black claimed maintenance costs would increase to a point by 2020 where it would make more economic sense to tear the building down and redevelop the site.

A Scottish Parliament spokesperson said: “Our annual maintenance cost reflects that Holyrood is an iconic, award-winning building that welcomes more than 350,000 visitors a year. All maintenance costs are met from within the parliament’s overall annual budget provision.”

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com