Tuesday 8 April 2003

The great scandal of Edinburgh

The endless budget overruns during the construction of the new Scottish Parliament building have caused outrage. Now this report makes some shocking claims:
The leaked report - kept under wraps for more than two years - claims Bovis Lend Lease, the main contractor for the project, was appointed because a key figure in the Scottish Office worked with the firm before.

It says the "comfort factor" of this previous relationship overrode the attempt to get the best candidate for the job. The report, by international cost consultants Gardiner & Theobald, also claims there was a substantial overpayment of fees to the architects in the early stages of the project.

Independent Nationalist Margo MacDonald today demanded a full inquiry into the project after she was leaked a copy of the report, which she had been refused through official channels.
What the hell is going on here? Margo MacDonald was elected by the people to represent us and has performed a great service by vigorously monitoring the whole construction project. Why should the Auditor General refuse to provide information to an MSP? I can well imagine the outcry if an auditor in the private sector refused to provide information requested by a director of a client company.

The Nationalists made a great mistake in edging Ms MacDonald out of a winning position in their candidates' list. This latest exposure may well see her back into parliament as an independent. I was in a taxi in Edinburgh a few weeks ago and the driver said that Margo MacDonald had been the previous passenger. Was he going to vote for her? Absolutely. And so were many of his colleagues.