DCSIMG

Holyrood timeline

1997

September

Scotland votes for a devolved government - the first parliament that the country has had since 1707. The Scottish Parliament building is expected to be completed by 2001. The first estimate for the cost is put forward. It is, in hindsight, a very conservative one.

Estimated cost: 40m

The initial estimate was produced prior to the devolution vote and refers to the cost of housing MSPs.

1998

January

After numerous locations are considered and rejected - Calton Hill, Haymarket, Leith docks, the Gyle, even Glasgow - Donald Dewar announces that the new Scottish Parliament will be built at Holyrood on the site of the former Scottish & Newcastle brewery. This is not a uniformly popular choice, with some claiming that other sites were ignored for political reasons.

February

Controversy over possible 500,000 cost of clearing the site prior to building.

March

A panel convenes to choose a design from 70 submitted by architectural companies worldwide. Among the judges are Mr Dewar and TV presenter Kirsty Wark. The panel slims the list down to 12 finalists, five of whom are Scottish. Until completion of the Holyrood building in 2001, the Scottish Parliament will use the Church of Scotland Assembly Hall and nearby council offices in Edinburgh.

July

The Spanish architect Enric Miralles is chosen to design the parliament. Again there is anger over the fact that a Scottish architect has not been given the job. The first price rise appears.

The parliament’s estimated cost is now around 55m

The early estimate was a preliminary figure for a 'straightforward building' of approx 16,000m3 on a cleared site at Leith, Haymarket or Holyrood.

Source: Scottish Parliament Building - Summary of Progress

November

Westminster passes the Scotland Act. The first elections to the Scottish Parliament are to be held on May 6, 1999.

1999

April

The first work begins on the new parliament’s construction. The shape of upturned boats influences the design. Enric Miralles says that upturned boats - reflecting the country’s maritime tradition - are one of the things that Scotland signifies to him.

May

Donald Dewar is elected First Minister of Scotland. Questions are asked regarding the cost of the new parliament to be built at Holyrood.

Concerns revolve around a possible cost exceeding 100m

June

The Scottish Parliament opens in the Church of Scotland Assembly Hall. A number of MSPs raise concerns over the need to construct a custom-built parliament.

The costs for the new parliament make a new rise to 109m as predicted

When reviewed, the 50m cost was upped to include site aquisition, fees, demolition, archaeology, construction and 'contingencies'. Source: Scottish Parliament Building - Summary of Progress

December

Enric Miralles, reacting to reports that the new parliament’s budget may be exceeded and that it may not now be ready until the start of 2002, plays down the rising cost of the project, and insisted that every effort would be made to keep it as close to its budget as possible.

The cost of the project is expected to rise from its current ceiling of 109m to about 120m

2000

February

Sir David Steel is forced to defend the project after allegations that building work is in chaos. However, Bill Anderson, the project's former manager, states that the building would be late and well over budget.

Claims that final costs have risen to 200m are denied

"The true cost of the building at the time of handover in 1999 was over 200m and rising fast – in other words double what the MSPs were led to believe. It is inconceivable that Holyrood would have survived if the correct information had been provided." Alex Salmond, MP

April

What is hoped to be a final costs figure is reached after a debate on the building’s future takes place with only nine votes between continuing and cancellation. Meanwhile, concerns are raised about Enric Miralles being unavailable due to illness.

Cost limit is raised to 195m.

June

Work starts on the Parliament building proper.

July

Enric Miralles dies of a brain tumour. Although most of his architectural work was complete and his wife remains on the design team, it brings further unwelcome news to supporters of the Holyrood site.

September

A report on the management of the Holyrood project is damning of the whole operation. Costs such as fees to consultants are shown to have gone from 10m to 26m. It also highlights the fact that inflation will mean final costs would not be known until the project is completed.

October

Donald Dewar dies of a brain Haemorrhage. Henry McLeish replaces him.

December

Parliament's Audit Committee publishes their own highly critical report on the management of the Holyrood project.

2001

January

Completion of the main superstructure of the MSPs' office accommodation.

February

Scotland's most senior civil servant is exonerated over his portion of blame concerning the new parliament’s rising costs. Critics claim this is a ‘whitewash’.

June

MSPs are asked to sanction a new rise in costs. This is despite agreeing to limit the Holyrood site’s budget to 195m last April. Also, project director Alan Ezzi quits and is replaced by Sarah Davidson. This is seen by critics as another sign that all is not going well.

The new cost is tentatively put at 230m

November

Jack McConnell was elected First Minister by the Scottish Parliament following the resignation of Henry McLeish.

December

The cost increases. The rise is put down to construction delays and, contrarily, accelerated construction times to enable the building to open in May 2003. The disclosure of the new figure raises a storm of protest.

A new final cost for the Holyrood project is announced as 274m

2002

March

Consultants' fees are now revealed to be around 40m – the total original estimated cost of a parliament building.

June

It is announced that the new parliament will now not open until September 2003 due to delays in construction. Fears are now being raised about ‘hidden extras’, which will further increase the cost.

October

Hidden extras such as bomb proofing measures are revealed. Officials say they cannot guarantee that the cost will not go up again.

The new cost of the building is revised again to a possible 350m

November

Plans for a grand opening ceremony are ‘shelved indefinitely’ as a date for completion of the new parliament recedes further and further into the distance.

December

A new official figure of 325m is revealed, caused by ‘ongoing delays’.

2003

January

The new year starts with yet another controversy over the cost of a single desk for the parliament’s reception area - 80,000.

March

Consultancy fees cause more fury as the latest figures top 56m.

May

Under pressure from critics and the European Commission, who have started an investigation into the ill-fated project, Jack McConnell announces an inquiry into ‘what has gone wrong and who is responsible’.

June

Lord Peter Fraser of Carmyllie QC appointed to carry out the independent inquiry. The inquiry soon has most of the main participants energetically defending their actions over the new parliament building’s litany of costs and delays.

EXTRA The Fraser inquiry versus...The BBC

Ever wondered what is on those enigmatic tapes that the BBC has consistently refused to release to the inquiry? So have we. Clearly it must be some pretty damning stuff, possibly footage of Donald Dewar and Enric Miralles dancing round a model of the parliament whilst clutching champagne bottles and singing "we're in the money". Whatever they contain, the most interesting thing about them so far is the fact that they give some idea of the huge amount of back scratching involved in the whole Holyrood saga. Take Kirsty Wark's involvement for instance. Not only a personal friend of Donald Dewar, but also a member of the panel responsible for choosing the Holyrood architect. Now, to a cynical member of the public, it might seem a teeny, weeny bit unfair that she should also get a plum commission to make a documentary on the whole Holyrood saga – and around 750,000 of public money to do it with. I mean it’s hardly going to end up being an unbiased account of the whole stramash is it? And another question – don’t these films belong to the British taxpayer since that’s who’s paid for them? So why can’t they get to see what their cash has been spent on? Because to do so would be ‘a breach of the contracts signed with the interviewees.’ Ah well, at least there’s a good reason, then.

July

Presiding Officer John Reid produces the first of his monthly reports on progress.

The cost of the Parliament is now estimated at 373.9m

September

Costs increase due to delays in the construction’s interior, which will also delay the completion until August 2004. The ongoing Fraser inquiry is even blamed for causing some delays.

The parliament building’s costs finally break through the 400m barrier

2004

January

It is revealed that taxpayers have no protection if the building companies involved in the Holyrood project go bust. The (then) Scottish Office is discovered to have failed to ask for parent-company guarantees, which would underwrite such payments.

February

The costs rise yet again with a strong probability that the half a billion mark will be reached before the project ends - although it is calculated that further costs may arise even after completion. Also, the completion date may have to be cancelled until 2005.

Holyrood is revealed to now be costing around 430m plus

April

On the last day of the Fraser Enquiry's evidence-taking, the presiding officer apologises to the nation on behalf of all parliamentarians for the problems with the building project.

May

The Fraser Enquiry ends. In a summing-up speech, the Parliament is described by John Campbell, counsel to Lord Fraser's inquiry, as suffering from a "management failure of "gigantic proportions". Civil servants in particular are singled out for criticism as being inexperienced in construction matters.

Laura Dunlop, QC for the Scottish Executive, responds to Mr Campbell's comments, defending the civil servants involved. But she also concedes that the Executive broke European Union rules in the way it recruited the design team and that the appointment of Bovis as construction managers was "not well conducted".

June

The auditor general for Scotland, Robert Black, questions the final cost of the Parliament in his report. He points to 'lack of proper budget or controls' and an 'unrealistic timetable'. There are estimated to be around 160m in costs that could have been saved through avoidance of 'disruption, delays, design changes and inflation'.

However. the Scottish parliament's chief executive, Paul Grice, disputes the facts in the auditor general's report.

July

Parliamentarians spend their last day at the temporary Parliament in the Church of Scotland's Assembly Hall.

August

Heavy rains cause a certain amount of flooding. It is pointed out that the multi-million pound building has been erected over a system of underground springs (the site's previous occupant being a brewery, of course). Questions begin to be asked as to the possibility that this will cause further problems in the future given a likely change in weather patterns over the coming years. Also, MSPs immediately start complaining about storage space and lack of natural light in their offices.

September

The small matter of MSPs' safety is raised as various journalists find that they are able to wander around the Parliament building at will. Steps are taken to improve security, but almost immediately 10,000 is stolen from a safe within the building.

Lord Fraser's enquiry is published. Some major points are:

• Initial estimate of the costs for an original and innovative building criticised as "never realisitic"

• Construction management procurement model made fixing budget impossible and passed risk wholly onto the state

• Senior civil servants withheld information of the construction management, problems between contractors and architect and rising costs from ministers

• Lord Fraser recommends Scottish Parliament Corporate body should have wider powers of delegation

• Donald Dewar cleared of misleading MSPs over soaring costs

• Contractor tendering process criticised over selection of Bovis, the most costly contractors

• Process of choosing a contractor for public buildings should be transparent

• Security concerns, which greatly added to the cost, should have been factored in much earlier

2006

March

For a half-billion pound building, it would be assumed that the structure wouldn't start to fall apart at the seams until, oh, at least a decade or so has passed. Not so. MSPs were somewhat startled when one of the beams in their debating chamber swung loose, threatening to bash some of the Tory MSPs on the noggin.

So far, reasons for this structural failure have been laid at the door of 'weak glue' and 'a lack of bolts'. A Mr Dave Parker, the technical editor of New Civil Engineering explained that "part of the building is acting in very strange ways" and "bits...are not behaving as expected" - not what the taxpayer wants to hear, I can assure you. Nor do they want to hear that until the roof is fixed properly, the MSPs will be using temporary premises, at the tune of up to 20,000 a day.

Annabel Goldie, the Scottish Tory leader, one of those whose life was threatened by the swingin' timber stated: "Another move would be inconvenient, especially to staff. However, we must ensure that the final costs of this affair do not become a drain on the taxpayer."

Some hope.

 
 
 

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