Parliament repairs firm collapse costs taxpayers

The parliament. Picture: Jon Savage
The parliament. Picture: Jon Savage
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TAXPAYERS are facing a Scottish Parliament repair bill for tens of thousands of pounds after contractors who installed faulty roof fittings went bust.

Work is being carried out during the summer recess to replace anchor points on the roof of Holyrood’s MSP building, where abseilers attach their ropes while carrying out cleaning or maintenance.

Problems with the vital fixtures were first discovered nearly two years ago and the parliament is gradually repairing or replacing the estimated 150 such points across the 
Holyrood campus.

The cost of the work this summer is put at £23,000, but that is expected to be only a fraction of the total bill.

And although the parliament says the fault lies with the contractor, the company which installed the anchor points, roofing firm Coverite, has now gone out of business, leaving the taxpayer to pick up the tab.

Edinburgh Southern SNP MSP Jim Eadie said: “I’m sure people in Edinburgh and across Scotland will be concerned there seems to be no end to the costs of our parliament building.

“But this new bill is an inevitable consequence of the company which did the work having gone out of business.”

The problem fixings first came to light when a workman hooked his safety harness on to the anchor point and it moved. Further investigation was said to have revealed it seemed to be held on with “a rusty screw”.

An immediate ban was placed on using any of the anchor points until a full check was carried out and the parliament was forced to bring in cherry-picker mobile platforms to allow workmen to access key parts of the controversial £414 million building.

Some parts of the parliament have now had the necessary work carried out, but others, including the committee towers and the debating chamber, have yet to be done.

But the parliament was unable to detail the timetable for completing the repairs and replacements, or give a global cost for the work.

A parliament spokesman said some of the anchor points were being replaced, others repaired, some taken out of use and others were satisfactory.

He said the contractors had installed a system which was not fit for purpose, but the company had since gone out of business and the parliament would have to pick up the bill.

He said: “The chances of recovering any costs are negligible. That avenue has been explored.”

The spokesman said it was expected that work on installing anchor posts on the MSP block would finish in early August, allowing permanent abseil access around the north part of the building.

The cost of the installation work is approximately £8000 and fabrication is around £15,000.

“The work is being carried out through our in-house maintenance contractor Trac,” he said. “Work will take place over normal work days and weekends.”