SCOTLAND’S toughest jail has a better-equipped gym than two of the country’s most famous five star hotels combined.
Shotts, North Lanarkshire, which only deals with long sentence offenders, spent an astonishing £157,000 on 75 pieces of gym equipment.
The refurbished Shotts gym has 21 treadmills, 18 rowing machines, 20 cross-trainers and 16 cycling machines for 553 criminals.
One machine – a Sportart XT20 “cross space cycle” – cost the Scottish Prison Service £4,314 alone.
Calls to Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh and Gleneagles, Perthshire, revealed the five star hotel gyms have 31 pieces of equipment for up to 840 guests paying as much as £1,800 a night.
A Freedom of Information request revealed that Shotts created its luxury gym during a refurbishment programme which was completed in 2012.
It seems no expense was too great at Shotts, where prisoners are serving four years to life, when it came to buying gym equipment.
New treadmills cost up to £2,520 each, cross trainers cost up to £2,340, and rowling machines worth up to £2386.80 were purchased.
Since 2011, Shotts has also bought 16 table tennis tables, 16 snooker tables and 17 pool tables for inmates, at a total cost of £57,115.06.
Taxpayers have also forked out another £9,426 since then to maintain and repair the snooker and pool tables at Shotts.
One snooker table cost £480 to repair not long after up to £2,152 was spent buying it.
Jonathan Isaby, Chief Executive of the Taxpayers’ Alliance said: “Prisoners need to be given the chance to stay fit, but the bill cannot be allowed to spiral out of control.
“Ultimately, prisons are not luxury camps. They must be places of rehabilitation, but not comfort, and that means items like karaoke machines are seriously questionable.”
Scottish Conservative justice spokeswoman Margaret Mitchell also weighed in on the spending figures.
She said: “Exercise clearly aids rehabilitation. However for some prisons to be spending more on equipment than five star hotels raises questions about securing value for money.
“In providing this essential equipment we have to ensure there is not an excessive waste of public funds.”
A spokeswoman for the Scottish Prison Service defended the costs, saying: “Those numbers account for the costs associated with equipping the gym when the prison opened.
“The Scottish Prison Service has an obligation to provide appropriate equipment in prisons to allow those in our care to build and maintain a healthy lifestyle.”