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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 2 April, 2003, 14:44 GMT 15:44 UK
The rocky road to Holyrood
Public foyer, ceiling
The ceiling in the public foyer of the new parliament
The Holyrood building project has been dogged by delays and rising costs since construction began in 1999.

The original budget was set at a maximum of 40m. But the latest figures from parliamentary officials put the cost of the building at just under 295m and landscaping another 14.2m.

MSPs were due to be in the complex by the summer of 2001. However, a revised date has been put at sometime next year.

Officials have told the parliament's finance committee that the latest setback is due to extra time being needed to carry out computer and broadcasting tests at the site.

The original brief was to build a parliament with an innovative design and modern technology which would "promote efficient working and easy access for members of the public".

Spanish architect Enric Miralles' "upturned boats" design was commissioned in the summer of 1998.

HOLYROOD COSTS
July 1997: Rough estimate of 10m to 40m
December 1997: 50m for construction of Holyrood building
January 1998: Total costs, including VAT, fees and fitments, is 90m
May 1999: Total revised to 109m
January 2000: Speculation that costs have risen to 230m
March 2000: Report confirms top cost is 230m, but with savings could be 190m
April 2000: Corporate body firms up costs at 195m
December 2001: New cost stands at 260m, resulting from increase in contingency funds
October 2002: Increase to 295m, largely due to added bomb proofing
December 2002: New figure of 325m caused by ongoing delays

But fewer than two years into the job, the 44-year-old died of a brain tumour.

The then first minister Donald Dewar said: "The task for the team he (Enric Miralles) put together for the Holyrood project is to complete the parliament building as a fitting tribute to him and his talent."

MSPs had come near to voting to scrap the project as the cost spiralled out of control.

An architect, John Spencely, was employed to investigate and make recommendations on where to take the project.

He concluded in March 2000 that it would be a "waste of time and money" for the current scheme to be scrapped and another site chosen.

But he criticised poor communication between the parliament's corporate body and officials and suggested that a new team be established to prevent further drift.

The task force, made up of senior politicians and building experts, was assembled to deal with the long-term costs and the deadline for completing the project.

A key debate involving MSPs took place in April 2000 when it was accepted that savings could be made and the total cost brought below 200m.

Donald Dewar
Donald Dewar: Parliament dream

Mr Dewar was the chief advocate for a new parliament building, the chosen site and the design. Critics focused their attention on him.

He told MSPs: "Holyrood is and was the right solution. I don't deny that there are lessons to be learned."

However, following the first minister's death in October 2000, Presiding Officer Sir David Steel championed the cause for the Holyrood project.

In a letter to MSPs in January, Sir David said there was more "certainty" about completion and costs.

But he admitted the building would miss its summer 2003 deadline.

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

Fresh criticism was levelled at the end of January when it was revealed that the reception desk would cost 88,000.

The SNP condemned it as "exorbitant and extravagant" and Scottish Tory leader David McLetchie said it was "a ludicrous waste of public money".

However, Holyrood officials said the desk represented "extraordinary value for money".

They pointed to the fact the 11 metres (36ft) long table - made of oak and sycamore - would last at least 100 years.




SEE ALSO:
Holyrood desk costs 88,000
24 Jan 03  |  Scotland
Holyrood project costs rise again
17 Jan 03  |  Scotland
Holyrood costs rise another 16m
13 Dec 02  |  Scotland
Anger at Holyrood opening plans
17 Nov 02  |  Scotland
New Holyrood breaks 300m barrier
04 Oct 02  |  Scotland


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