THE Scottish Parliament’s £250,000 anti-terror car parking barrier has created terror of its own – by damaging MSPs’ cars.
The security barrier has dented five vehicles since it was installed, forcing parliament bosses to pay £7,000 compensation.
It has also emerged that the barriers have been out of action completely almost one day in ten this year.
In 2010, a Tory MSP’s car was damaged after the pop-up barrier “popped” at the wrong moment.
Mid Scotland and Fife MSP Liz Smith said the crash was “very frightening” and she was forced to clamber out of the window of her Ford Focus.
The parliament has now terminated the contract with the company which managed the barrier and another maintenance firm has been brought in.
The figures were revealed in a freedom of information request.
Ms Smith, who was waved on by guards before the barrier popped up, said: “It was very frightening, but I was lucky.
“Had I accelerated a bit more quickly, it would have come up underneath me which would potentially have been much more serious.”
The car was left with two demolished front panels, a broken gearbox and damaged brakes.
She continued: “It was a pretty heavy impact and it knocked out the electrics, which meant I had to get out through the window, which fortunately was open.
“It’s just as well I’m a bit more athletic than some people might be.”
Ms Smith said staff responded well and her car was eventually fully repaired, and Scottish Parliament chiefs confirmed they would cover the cost of the damage.
But in the weeks and months after the November 2010 crash there were several other similar incidents.
Ms Smith said: “I know staff were frustrated that changes had supposedly been made, but the problem was still happening.
“I think we would all like an assurance it is now working properly.”
The barriers were installed in 2008 at the Hoylrood Road car park entrance, along with a swipe card and traffic light system to control access.
Users of the car park were given an eight-page guide on how to use the system.
The freedom of information response said there had been 49 faults associated with the barrier since 2010.
These included electrical and mechanical faults, issues with the intercom unit, card reader problems, water ingress and “vehicle impact”.
The parliament said it had spent £11,004 on reactive repairs since 2008.
The response said: “There have been five reported incidents where a failure of the barrier system resulted in damage to a vehicle.
“In total £7,088 has been paid in compensation since 2008.”
Problems with the barriers meant they were only working 92% of the time this year.
The £4,000 a year contract for maintenance with Surrey-based Allen fencing has been terminated early.
The initial contract was due to end in February next year, but could have been extended to 2018.
Mitie Technical Facilities Management now has responsibility for the system.
A Holyrood source said a “more hands on” maintenance regime would be in place.