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 Friday, 17 January, 2003, 16:06 GMT
Holyrood project costs rise again
The Holyrood site
It has been beset by delays and spiralling costs
The cost of the troubled Holyrood project has risen yet again, with the latest estimate of the final bill reaching 340m.

In a letter to MSPs the Presiding Officer Sir David Steel said there was more "certainty" about the project now.

But the new Scottish Parliament building will miss its summer 2003 deadline.

The Scottish Conservatives said the project had become "a national scandal".

Sir David Steel
We will continue to monitor progress closely over the coming months

Sir David Steel
Experts told the presiding officer they have a "very high degree of confidence" that the building would be completed by November this year at the latest.

It was revealed last December that the project, which has been beset by delays and spiralling costs, required additional funding for glazing and blast testing of the windows.

At that time the final billl was estimated at 325m.

The Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body (SPCB) wrote to the finance committee with the results of the latest review.

The SPCB said November was now the likely completion date.

'National scandal'

Bovis Lend Lease, the firm in charge of the project, admitted that the debating chamber and boundary wall would not be ready until November.

Sir David said: "The SPCB welcomes the fact that this review allows us a much greater certainty over cost and programme as we approach the expected handover of the building in November this year, and we will continue to monitor progress closely over the coming months."

The Scottish Conservatives said the project had become "a national scandal" and the finance could have been put to better use.

If Jack McConnell had a shred of integrity he would accept that his party is to blame and he would get on with trying to sort out Labour's farce

John Swinney
SNP leader
Tory finance spokesman David Davidson said the total was now almost nine times the original estimate at the time of the devolution referendum in 1999.

He said: "This is public money which could have been spent on around 100 primary schools, 30 secondary schools, three state-of-the-art hospitals or road improvements, instead of a palace to feed the egos of the self-serving Scottish government."

Scottish National Party leader John Swinney alleged Labour was to blame for the "complete farce".

"They chose the site, the architect, the type of contract and the design of the building," he said.

Estimated cost

"If Jack McConnell had a shred of integrity he would accept that his party is to blame and he would get on with trying to sort out Labour's farce.

"Instead he has continually tried to shift the blame, deny the truth and wash his hands of the whole episode."

When a new parliament building was originally suggested by the then Secretary of State for Scotland Donald Dewar, the estimated cost stood at 40m.

See also:

13 Dec 02 | Scotland
17 Nov 02 | Scotland
15 Oct 02 | Scotland
04 Oct 02 | Scotland
21 Jun 02 | Scotland
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