IT’s a bar paid for out of the public purse – but this is nothing like a public house.
Despite the fact Holyrood bosses have spent £75,000 of public money creating a new bar at the Scottish Parliament they have refused to allow pictures to be taken.
No images of the new-look bar are being released – and it was confirmed that taxpayers will not be allowed to drink there without an invitation.
The bar, which was opening for business today, has cost £125,000 with the other £50,000 being met by catering contractor Sodexo.
The cross-party Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body, which oversees the £414 million Holyrood building, decided on the new bar because it said it could no longer justify the £50,000 cost of keeping the existing restaurant and bar open in the evenings. Labour Lothians MSP Kezia Dugdale said the bar was unnecessary and criticised the ban on photographs.
She said: “If the existing bar in the parliament cannot sustain itself, it should close and we should all be encouraged to use bars in the local area. There are great small businesses all around the parliament and I’m sure they could do with some support from politicians.
“The public is entitled to see anything and everything that goes on in the parliament. Transparency is one of its founding principles.
“Especially in these austere times, and given the history of the building, the public is entitled to see what this bar looks like.”
The new bar, to be known as Queensberry House Lounge, will offer a full bar service from 4pm until 10pm, Monday to Friday, with light meals served until 8.30pm. A parliament spokeswoman said the bar would accommodate around 30 people. She said there were two rooms – one with seating only and one with the service area, seating and standing areas. It will be open to MSPs, other parliament passholders and their invited guests.
The parliament said tariffs for the new menu and bar would reflect local market rates.
Members and their invited guests will also be able to use the lounge during the day, between 10am and 4pm, when tea, coffee and freshly-baked goods will be available.
The existing restaurant and bar will continue to open at lunchtimes and will also offer an evening dinner service twice a month. The rest of the time, the restaurant and bar will host members’ sponsored events and receptions.
A parliament spokeswoman said photographs had not been allowed in advance of the bar opening because it would disrupt preparations and were not being allowed once it was opened because of MSPs’ entitlement to privacy.
She said: “Our focus remains on providing a service to those using the lounge – and their expectations of privacy in this space. This is entirely in keeping with how we manage private areas of the building.”
A WEE dram may not be the only kind of spirit which MSPs discover in their new bar.
Their latest watering hole has been built in the room at the heart of one of the most gruesome stories from Edinburgh’s past.
Legend has it that on the day the Act of Union was passed, the demented son of the Duke of Queensberry escaped from his room in Queensberry House, killed the kitchen boy, roasted him on a spit and ate him.
The bar is located in what was the kitchen of the house at the time of the kitchen boy’s murder. Before the parliament moved to Holyrood, there were stories of his ghost haunting Queensberry House.
A nurse who worked there when it was a hospital told how she had been startled by the ghost as she took a rest.
“I was dozing and I felt this choking. I opened my eyes and saw these eyes glaring at me. I got a bit hysterical. I didn’t know about the story of the duke’s son until afterwards.”