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The BBC's Emma Simpson reports
"The costs have soared"
 real 28k

Donald Dewar
"It is is not a question of throwing good money after bad - this is all good money"
 real 28k

Presiding Officer Sir David Steel
"We must stop making changes to the design"
 real 28k

Political Editor Brian Taylor
"The betting must be that Holyrood goes ahead late and over budget"
 real 28k

Thursday, 30 March, 2000, 16:18 GMT 17:18 UK
Report says 'Holyrood site stays'
Holyrood site
Despite the furore, work has continued on the site
The architect who investigated the spiralling costs of the new Scottish Parliament building at Holyrood has concluded that it would be a "waste of time and money" to move to another site.

In his report, John Spencely also criticises poor communication between the parliament's corporate body and officials and suggests that a new team be established to prevent further drift.

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

On the issue of cost, Mr Spencely says that if the current estimate of 230m is accepted as "accurate and affordable" then that is fine.

But he adds: "If parliament were to decide that this is too great a price to pay, but that the project should proceed, then it may wish to authorise a lesser sum on the project.

30m to scrap project

"I recommend that parliament should go no further than setting a limit for the project as a whole."

He goes on to conclude that savings of between 15% and 20% can be made and this would produce a construction cost of between 110 and 115m and a total cost of between 185 and 196m.

Spencely's conclusions
A new site would be "costly and time consuming"
30m to scrap current project
Up to 20% savings could be found on current project
New cost could be capped at 196m
Queensberry House conversion not "value for money"
New finish date August 2003
New entry date December 2003
Mr Spencely believes that changing the site would require a new design as the present project could not be "transplanted unchanged" and could cost up to 30m to scrap.

"Time would be lost and this would cost money. The money invested in the project to date would be largely thrown away.

"For these reasons and on the basis of the information currently available to me, I consider that there would be no advantage in moving this design to another site."

First Minister Donald Dewar welcomed the report and said: "It is clear that such a change would be impractical, expensive and likely to end in a splutter of damaging litigation. A decision to abandon Holyrood would involve a delay of several years.

Donald Dewar
Donald Dewar responds to the report
"The Spencely Report deals effectively with the many misunderstandings and false accusations which have been common currency in the continuing debate."

Mr Spencely reckons the current deadline is too tight and he recommends that if construction goes to plan, the building work will be completed by August 2003 with an entry date of December 2003.

His report also states that the cross-party corporate body under Presiding Officer Sir David Steel - which took over the project last June - should have monitored rising costs more closely.

Sir David said: "I accept that the communication was not as good as it shoudl have been but of course, the whole reason we called Mr Spenceley in was that we were uneasy about the constantly escalating figures without a clear reason for them."

Queensberry cost

MSPs will vote next week on whether the Holyrood project should go ahead.

Mr Spencely also warns that the on-site refit of Queensberry House, the historic building which will form part of the new parliament, will cost too much at 11m.

However, it is expected that the corporate body will seek to keep the building, believing that its demolition could simply mean another huge row.

Mr Dewar has consistently denied suggestions that he or his team misled the public over the cost of Holyrood.

Alex Salmond
Alex Salmond: Examines the Spencely report
He was forced to repeat that statement when quizzed in the Scottish Parliament by Scottish National party leader Alex Salmond on Thursday.

Mr Salmond said the report made "devastating reading" for the first minister.

"The Spencely Report shows that Mr Dewar underestimated the true cost by at least 27m in the figures that he presented to parliament and that the cost overrun existed from February 1999, several months before he handed the parliament project to the Scottish Parliament's Corporate Body," he declared.

"This leaves Mr Dewar with key questions to answer. Why did he provide false figures for the cost of building Scotland's parliament to MSPs and the Scottish public last June? - he's got to answer that."

The leader of Scotland's Conservatives, David McLetchie, welcomed the report and said it was now time to take stock.

He added: "We now need to look realistically at all possible sites for the parliament and give some realistic cost assessment so that we can do a proper comparison between going ahead with Holyrood and other options."

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See also:

30 Mar 00 | Scotland
Donald Dewar responds to Spencely
22 Mar 00 | Scotland
Holyrood bill put at 190m
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