Holyrood farce part 2: It's on the move again

Key quote "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." - Annabel Goldie

Story in full THE Scottish Parliament is looking for another new home after being told it would have to leave its temporary location by the end of next week.

In a development which threatened to turn the trouble over Holyrood's shutdown into a farce, a parliament spokesman revealed that MSPs would be able to sit in The Hub for only one more week.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

After next week, the Festival venue on the Royal Mile has bookings from private and corporate clients. If the Holyrood debating chamber is not fixed by then, the parliament will have to find a new venue.

One of the bookings which may take precedence over Scotland's parliamentary business at The Hub is a Tourism Innovation Toolkit Workshop, sponsored by VisitScotland, Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

The problems started last Thursday when an oak beam broke free from the roof at Holyrood. Structural engineers have not been able to indicate when the roof might be fixed, to the annoyance of George Reid, the Presiding Officer.

It has cost the parliament 20,000 to hire The Hub for this week - not including the extra broadcasting, administration and electronic voting system costs.

The parliament could meet in Edinburgh City Chambers, but there are not enough seats for every MSP, while decamping to Glasgow City Chambers would be a very costly option. It is understood the Church of Scotland building on the Mound - MSPs' previous temporary home - is not an option as preparations are too advanced for this year's General Assembly.

If a venue cannot be found, the parliament's Easter recess could be brought forward by two weeks.

Annabel Goldie, the Scottish Tory leader, said: "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."

The SNP MSP Fergus Ewing said he would be demanding answers over the disruption to parliament when the structural engineers' report was released.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"I thought from the day the problem arose that it would take a fairly long time to carry out investigatory work," he said. "This possible move to yet another venue is an inconvenience we will all have to put up with."

A Scottish Parliament spokesman confirmed The Hub would not be available for the week starting 20 March and said any further relocation would depend on the report from the structural engineers. "In the absence of further information from Arup, no decision has been taken yet as to whether a contingency venue will be required after this," he said.

"However, we are reviewing our long-standing contingency plans for other venues around Edinburgh."

Arup, the parliament's structural engineer, said on Wednesday that one of the connecting bolts that fixes each oak beam to a steel node, or "shoe", was found to have broken - but the exact cause had yet to be established. All similar bolts at Holyrood will now be checked.