A new external security facility is to be built at Holyrood, following “clear and consistent” security advice, it has been announced.
Reaching its decision today, the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body (SPCB) said it had a duty of care to the 400,000 people who visit Holyrood each year, and a legal responsibility to safeguard their well-being.
Construction will begin in October 2012, with the new facility due to be operational by summer 2013. The total cost of the project will be £6.48m including VAT, fees and fit out.
The cost will be met from within the Parliament’s existing resources by postponing other projects and spreading the cost across two financial years, ensuring there will be no additional demands made on the public purse.
Confirmation of the cost follows the completion of a construction tender exercise on the basis of a fixed design with a fixed cost.
The new facility will protect the integrity of the building by relocating the point at which security screening takes places. The current entrance and security facility is considered by security advisers to be too close to the debating chamber and to areas heavily populated by members of the public and school groups.
In a letter to MSPs today, Presiding Officer Tricia Marwick said:
“It is incumbent upon us to take the right decision on behalf of those whose safety is our responsibility.”
The full text of the Presiding Officer’s letter is as follows:
External Security Facility at Holyrood
I am writing to update you on the decision taken earlier today by the SPCB in relation to the proposal for an external security facility (ESF).
Following the completion of a construction tender exercise and on the basis of clear and consistent security and legal advice, the SPCB has unanimously agreed its intention to award a contract to construct an external security facility.
Since the outset of this process which began in 2007 with a security review, the SPCB has followed the same prudent, staged approach to taking decisions on this important issue. Throughout that period, there has been a singularly clear message from our security advisers – namely that in light of current threats, it is highly advisable to construct an external security facility.
Let me stress that this is not a decision the SPCB has taken lightly, especially in the current economic climate, but the legal advice to us is equally clear. We have a duty of care to all MSPs, staff, contractors and to the 400,000 members of the public who come through our doors each year, and in law we must take all steps ‘reasonably practicable’ to safeguard their wellbeing.
It is incumbent upon us to take the right decision on behalf of those whose safety is our responsibility.
The project will go ahead on the basis of a fixed design with a fixed cost. Construction will start in early October and we expect the new facility to be completed and operational by the end of summer 2013. The project has been designed to ensure that parliamentary business will not be disrupted and that the public will continue to have access to the complex.
The total cost of the project, including VAT, fees and fit out, will be £6.48m. The cost will be met from within the Parliament’s existing resources, by postponing other projects and spreading the cost across two financial years, ensuring there will be no additional demands made on the public purse.
In taking forward this project, the SPCB is absolutely committed to continuing a process of openness, transparency and accountability. We have therefore set up a web page that will contain latest information and images – also attached with this letter – and there will be regular cost and construction progress updates to the SPCB which will be shared with Members and made publicly available.
I enclose for your information this morning’s SPCB paper which sets out further information on the timescale for the build, the projected total cost of the project and the governance structure which is being put in place.
As I have indicated, this was not a decision the SPCB took lightly and we are grateful for the support we have received throughout the process both from party leaders and from Members across all parties here at Holyrood.