By Rory Reynolds
THE Scottish Parliament has spent £1.25m on designer anti-terror barriers to fit in with the ornate style of the building.
New figures have revealed that parliament bosses spent £52,000 on each concrete block, which resemble the building’s boat and leaf motifs.
The Scottish Parliament Corporate Body, which manages the site, has said planning permission required the 24 barriers to fit in with the surroundings of Edinburgh’s Canongate area.
However, critics have slated the decision, saying that MSPs should have gone for a “no-frills” approach to security.
Last year similar-sized barriers covering roughly the same area were erected at Edinburgh Airport at a cost of around £150,000.
Matthew Elliott, director of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, said: “In a recession they should be going for a no-frills approach to security and for the cheapest option available.
“Yet again the Scottish Parliament is massively over cost and MSPs are not learning the lessons from the original build.”
The blocks, which double as benches, are the latest anti-terror measure to secure the parliament against possible attack.
A concrete chicane to prevent vehicles driving straight into the entrance as happened with the Glasgow Airport attack has already been installed at as cost of £223,000.
And a further £300,000 has been spent on turnstiles to access the building.
Independent MSP Margo MacDonald said: “The corporate body should maybe have told the man from MI5 advising them to shove off.
“There is a suspicion that there has been a bit of an over-reaction here.
“That said, it is certainly compatible with the building, which some people think is horrible and others, with difficulty with their sight, think is lovely.”
Holyrood was told to improve its security by the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure, which advises public bodies on the security of their sites.
The Scottish Parliament was built to withstand any possible attack, with the windows being blast-proof and the walls being designed to collapse outwards instead of inwards.
However its wide glass entrances were considered at risk following the Glasgow Airport attack in 2007.
The new defences, which can stop a 7.5 tonne truck going at 50mph, were approved by the corporate body, chaired by Presiding Officer Alex Fergusson.
They were designed by Suffolk firm DJ Goode and have been fitted by Land Engineering Scotland.
A spokesman for the Scottish Parliament said that it had received five bids for the contract to handle the installation, but not confirm whether the current developer was the cheapest.
He said: “Holyrood is located within a world heritage site. It was a planning permission requirement that the design of the concrete units takes account of the surroundings.”
As well as the 24 barriers, a new security building at the front entrance is to be built in front of the parliament’s public entrance at the bottom of the Royal Mile, similar to Westminster’s £12.5million security area.