‘Splashing out £2904 for tea point timers?’

AMID all the criticism of the new Scottish Parliament and the £414 million of our money spent on it, critics were at least assured they were getting a modern and efficient building.

Despite the massive outlay, surely the maintenance costs would be far lower and no major refurbishment would be needed for decades?

Eight years on, and it has transpired that more than £1m a year has been forked out on alterations and improvements to Holyrood – and that’s not counting the new £6.5m “security annexe”.

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It was revealed today that the latest maintenance bill includes measures to make the parliament more energy efficient.

A laudable aim, but you have to question why much of it wasn’t done at the time – more than £20,000 
on loft insulation and draught-proofing at Queensberry House, for example.

It is difficult to argue with upgrading committee room lighting to LED bulbs, but splashing out £2904 on timers for tea points is certain to lead some to boil over.

Independent Lothians MSP Margo MacDonald has been a regular critic of the building and told today of warnings at the time that this sort of constant refurbishment would be required.

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iIf these measures end up saving money in the long run then we have to welcome them.

But we must ensure that best-value is always being obtained and spending is being properly scrutinised to avoid the impression that taxpayers’ money is simply being poured into the building like the water through the roof every time it rains.

We can at least take one positive. For those who still think the Royal High would have been a better choice for the parliament – just think how much that would have cost in draught excluders.

Porty in a storm

Who would have thought the key to preventing hurricanes and superstorms like Sandy would be throwing a few old tyres into the sea?

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There is clearly slightly more to it than that, but Edinburgh University academic Stephen Salter’s ingenious new system does seem wonderfully improvised.

It has already attracted the backing of Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates, so don’t bet against hearing a lot more about the “Salter Sink” in years to come.

Just one thought – once he’s perfected cooling the sea, perhaps 
Professor Salter could have look at making the water at Porty a few 
degrees warmer.