Holyrood bosses ‘milk’ taxpayers for £6million on parliament upgrades


AN average of £1m a year is being spent upgrading the parliament building at Holyrood despite its horrendously over-budget £400m price tag.

More than £6m of taxpayers’ cash has been spent since 2006 on issues including lighting, security measures, gutter upgrades and even timers for ‘tea points’ that supply boiling water.

The building came in 10 times over its initial budget and critics said today it was a disgrace that significant extra sums are still being spent.

The Scottish Parliament building


Holyrood chiefs insist the upgrades are  part of a carbon footprint management plan and will save money in the long run.

According to 1997 plans the Scottish Parliament was meant to cost no more than £40m.

But during the construction this rocketed to an astronomical £414m and did not even open its doors until October 2008 – three years after the scheduled date of completion.

Figures revealed under Freedom of Information show that expenditure over the last two years included £271,775 on a new vent system designed to keep the IT servers chilled.

A further £15,621.15 went on upgrading lights to LED bulbs, £17,861 on a new boiler, and £15,223 on broadcasting equipment.

Other costs included £3,508 for on an “uninterrupted power supply for the chamber voting system”.

Upgrades also included £1,663 on meeting room improvements, £3,610.65 on altering access hatches, £17,736 on loft insulation, and £2,904.33 installing the tea point timers.

Also included during the period was £504,978 towards a external security facility that will eventually cost 6.48m.

This went ahead despite objections, including one from a security expert who said a sniffer dog would be cheaper and more effective.

Holyrood bosses also spent £7,946.85 on low energy air filters and £2,075.76 on draft-proofing the windows.

Even the plant room got an overhaul with a new water supply costing £1,442.29 followed by electric metering of plant room equipment coming to £11,743.92.

Eben Wilson from TaxpayerScotland said: “This milking of the Scottish taxpayer for the on-going expense of maintaining this extraordinary building is a disgrace.

“The Scottish Parliament should come clean with an estimate of how much it is likely to cost over the next two decades and publish that.

“It is time to take a long hard look at whether it offers value for money, and whether its environmental credentials stand up.”

Independent Lothians MSP Margo MacDonald said: “Nobody likes to say or hear ‘I told you so’ but my office did try to warn people that the magic of the new building would wear thin a lot earlier than perhaps was imagined.

“One of the architects who advised me at the time of construction forecast, said it would need pretty major refurbishment in ten years.”

Lothians Green MSP Alison Johnstone said: “Perhaps in all the excitement of a new building the simple steps that can make a big difference were over-looked.”

A Holyrood spokesman said: “The Parliament has invested in a number of energy efficiency measures which will reduce our gas and electricity bills as well as our carbon emissions.

“The decision to build an external security facility follows clear and consistent security advice.”