Parliament’s restaurant to be taken off the menu

The under-used parliament restaurant costs taxpayers up to �60,000 a year
The under-used parliament restaurant costs taxpayers up to �60,000 a year
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HOLYROOD bosses are considering closing the MSPs’ restaurant and bar after 5pm to save money after latest figures showed evening opening is costing taxpayers up to £60,000 a year.

Too few politicians and staff are using the eatery at night, resulting in a massive subsidy from the public purse.

Now the cross-party Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body (SPCB) is to look at scrapping evening meals and using the restaurant and bar as an extra venue for receptions and other events instead.

The parliament’s garden lobby, currently the main venue for evening events, is always in high demand.

But MSPs argued the restaurant was important as somewhere to welcome visitors and an informal meeting place.

The total subsidy for the restaurant and bar together, for the current financial year, is expected to be between £75,000 or £80,000.

The evening service will account for 74 per cent of that – between £55,000 and £60,000.

A parliament spokesman said: “The restaurant and bar is clearly under-used in the evenings. In this financial climate, the SPCB is of the view that the position is not sustainable and we are looking at options to address this in the new year.

“The garden lobby is in high demand from members for events involving constituents and outside organisations.

“While we can’t pre-empt the SPCB looking at the issue, one option could be to use the bar and restaurant space as an extra venue in the evening.”

The SPCB is on course to reduce its total annual budget by £9.5 million by 2014/15, a 12 per cent cut over four years.

It said MSPs could give their views to the SPCB on how the restaurant space should be used in the evening.

Edinburgh Southern SNP MSP Jim Eadie said no other national parliament would get rid of a restaurant where it could welcome visitors.

He said: “It would be disappointing if Scotland’s national parliament didn’t have the facility to offer hospitality to guests and visiting dignitaries.”

Independent Lothians MSP Margo MacDonald called for a big drive to get more custom for the restaurant.

She said: “It’s a facility we must have.

“In a parliament, you have to have a meeting place such as a bar and restaurant.”

Lothians Labour MSP Kezia Dugdale said: “It’s important to offer space for dinner meetings, but I have no problem with using the restaurant for other things.”