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EDITIONS
Wednesday, 12 February, 2003, 13:48 GMT
Holyrood not ready for MSPs until 2004
Holyrood building - January 2003
MSPs will not start business at Holyrood until next year
The new Scottish Parliament building at Holyrood is unlikely to open for business until next year, MSPs have been told.

Construction work on the project is on course to be completed by the end of November, but it is unlikely that MSPs will move in until 2004.

Parliament officials told the parliament's finance committee that the delay was due to the time needed to carry out computer and broadcasting tests at the site.

The project, whose cost has rocketed to almost 340m, was originally supposed to be finished in July 2001.

Holyrood public entrance - January 2003
The project has been dogged by delays

A series of delays led to the MSPs being told that they could not begin business at Holyrood until September 2003.

Provisional plans were made for an opening ceremony in September but last month Presiding Officer Sir David Steel admitted the building would not be finished until November.

The parliament's chief executive Paul Grice told the finance committee on Tuesday that the first debates at the new building would not take place by the end of the year.

Mr Grice said: "We couldn't get in before Christmas. There's a lot of issues that we need to answer, but I would say January is feasible.

"We might do it a bit sooner or we might decide to leave it a few more weeks beyond that. But it would be a mistake to open for business before we are satisfied we can handle it."

Fitting out

Project director Sarah Davidson said construction managers are "90-95% confident" that it would be completed on time and that the major obstacles the team had faced in the past had now been overcome.

Construction and fitting-out of most of the complex is on target for completion between the end of August and the end of October.

Although the debating chamber and boundary wall are unlikely to be completed by that time, senior parliamentarians have been told that the building is likely to be handed over in its entirety in November.

The meeting was the first since it emerged that the total cost of the Holyrood project had risen yet again.

Last autumn the final cost was put at 294.6m, but in December it was disclosed that the figure would rise by 15.9m to 310.5m.

But in a letter to Finance Committee convener Tom McCabe on 16 January, Sir David said the target cost had now risen to 323m.

With a landscaping bill of 14m, it means the total cost now stands at 338m.

See also:

24 Jan 03 | Scotland
17 Jan 03 | Scotland
13 Dec 02 | Scotland
17 Nov 02 | Scotland
15 Oct 02 | Scotland
04 Oct 02 | Scotland
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