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Sunday, 17 November, 2002, 12:43 GMT
Anger at Holyrood opening plans
Artist's impression of new chamber
The Holyrood project will cost more than 300m
A decision to sanction a 400,000 budget for the opening ceremony at the new Holyrood building has come under fire.

The new home for the Scottish Parliament is scheduled to open next September and is tipped to finally cost about 350m.

A civil servant has been given the job of organising the opening ceremony, despite major doubts that the building may not open by the target date.

Scots Tory leader David McLetchie said the decision would lead to more cash being "wasted" on the project.

David McLetchie
David McLetchie: "Waste"

However, a parliament spokesman said the money set aside for the event was "nominal".

And he said the event would be a more low-key event than the ceremony held to celebrate the beginning of devolution in July, 1999.

He said: "The budget is a nominal one for forward planning purposes.

"It's the same budget amount that the Parliament spent on the 1999 opening ceremony.

"MSPs will be consulted on what they think will be an appropriate opening ceremony, but the expectation is that it will be a lower-key affair than the constitutionally more significant opening ceremony in 1999."

'Ill-fated project'

The decision to appoint a member of staff at the parliament to organise the opening ceremony was taken by the Scottish Parliament Corporate Body (SPCB) at the end of June.

David McLetchie said the latest twist in the Holyrood saga proved that the whole project had been mismanaged.

He said: "Holyrood, whenever it is finished, is a monumental waste of public money. Its opening is not an occasion to celebrate by wasting even more.

"The secrecy surrounding this appointment sums up the lack of information about this ill-fated project.


Holyrood, whenever it is finished, is a monumental waste of public money

David McLetchie
"We should be thinking about the schools, hospitals and roads that could have been built with the money wasted on Holyrood."

The project, which initially had a price tag of 40m, had been due for completion by April next year, with MSPs moving in by the following September.

But Bovis Lend Lease, the firm in charge of the project, have admitted that the deadline may have to be extended due to the specialist glazing work needed on the roof of the debating chamber.

The parliament spokesman admitted: "It is going to be a demanding target to meet."

See also:

15 Oct 02 | Scotland
04 Oct 02 | Scotland
21 Jun 02 | Scotland
01 Nov 00 | Scotland
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