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The team investigating Holyrood’s overspend has been thrashing out what went wrong for six weeks. 80 what have we learnt? Words: Tim Abrahams
fter six dramatic weeks. the small team
behind the Holyrood Inquiry pauses to catch
up on its reading. As it does so. interested parties in Scotland and in the wider architectural community have an opportunity to assess the impact of the first six weeks of investigation. Back in June. Jack McConnell announced he was forming an inquiry under the auspices of Lord Fraser of Carmyllie into the key decisions that led to the budget of the parliament swelling from E40m to SAOOm. When he did so. he chose a limited investigation. rather than a public inquiry. At the time commentators claimed that the Holyrood Inquiry w0uld lack real teeth.
In the last six weeks. however. newspapers have been bulging with details of a whole raft of gaffes and errors. The most recent of these was the revelation that the construction company, Bovis. which eventually won the contract to build Holyrood. was bizarrely reinstated in a competition, having been excluded because its initial bid was too high.
But opinion remains divided as to the actual worth of such an inquiry. Deyan SUdllC. former director of Glasgow 1999: UK City of Architecture and Design. is dismissive. 'If you look at the inquiry website. it is as if they are trying to present it as some kind of
and the Beanstalk
Watergate scandal. It's not. No one had a public inquiry into why the NIMROD early warning system went so drastically over budget. So why have it for a building? It's only $3400 lllllllOll. after all.“
locally, however. many see the inquiry as proViding too little too late. A spokesperson for Margot McDonald. a stern critic of the parliament. believes that the inquiry is beneficial but adds: ‘It has only revealed what we already privately knew: that at every stage. bad and reckless decisions were taken at the highest levels.‘ Peter Wilson. director of the Manifesto F<,)undation for Architecture. goes further. ‘To be honest. if the press and MSPs had been scrutinising cryil servants at the time this inquiry w0uldn't be necessary. There are more revelations to come. espeCially given the fact that McConnell himself Will now give eVidence' He adds: ‘A lot of what has finally come to light goes beyond being incompetent. Lord Fraser cannot take the inquiry this far and let the own servants involved get a nice pat on the head and early retirement.‘
The Holyrood Inquiry reconvenes Mon 15 Dec for a week before Christmas recess. For details see www.holyroodinquiry.org
THE DRAMA SO FAR
Former Lab0ur minister Sam Galbraith is asked whether the Constitutional Convention. a group of prominent Scots that drew up a scheme for a Scottish Parliament. discussed a home for it. ‘Not to my memory. but I didn't take any great interest in the Convention anyway.‘ An inauspicious opening to Act I of the Holyrood saga.
The villain is discovered. Former ministers and civil servants line up to finger Donald Dewar for choosing the current site. ‘Holyrood presented. in the eyes of some. which I partly shared. a magical quality' says Henry McLeish.
John Campbell OC cheekin quotes Kirsty Wark's 'more on that story later' catchphrase as he questions her in her capacity as Judge on the design selection committee. Everyone laughs politer until it is revealed that Campbell and Wark are actually close lFIOIldS.
William Armstrong. former proiect manager. fingers architect. Enric Miralles. as the Villain of Act II for thinking he didn't have any inadequacies. This prompts his Widow. Benedetta Tagliabiie. to fly over from Barcelona to defend her late husband's reputation on News/iig/it Scot/and of all places.
Glasgow m-way plan slammed
There are better alternatives, say campaigners. Words: Ruth Hedges
cotland is at risk of parochial.
shortsighted deCision making. the
public inquiry into the M74 extension Will be told when it re<Sits in the new year. David Spaven. chair of enVironrnental group TRANSform Scotland. says the proposed QSOOm extension of motorway ignores
Since it began on 1 December. the inquiry has heard that no independent analysis; of alternatives has been carried out despite 59% of Glasgow households not having access to a car. “The Scottish Executive's case for the M74 is starting to unravel.‘ says Will Jess. chair of pressure group. JOint Action Against
Not actually taking the piss
I Seems that Beyoncé wrote so many amazing songs for her distinctly duff debut solo platter that she's held some back for her springtime sequel. But will some of those sloppy seconds get another chance for an airing on the forthcoming Destiny’s Child album? . . . Seal plays Glasgow next March. If you're interested . . . And Sting will be doing the same in May. Still awake? . . . There's nothing like planning ahead. Peter Jackson has just launched the final Middle Earth saga and will soon get his hands on the camera for King Kong. Once that finishes. roughly in 2006. he's keen to start work on The Hobbit. Let's hope he doesn't get hit by a bus tomorrow . . . Who says the BBC doesn‘t tackle the tough issues? Plenty. Yet. the core of its winter season is a hard-hitting drama entitled Eng/and Expects. in which Steven Mackintosh plays a respectable family man who begins to seek others to blame for his woes. So he picks on asylum seekers and Muslims . . . On less serious matters comes news that Britney
the M74 i‘.JAM7ztl. but the group has also expressed concerns that the inquiry is nothing more than a formality for the Scottish l..xe::utive. Its programme officer. Frances Nicoll. appointed by the Scottish Executive. is a ciVil servant from Glasgow City Council. one
Spears may be turning up as Burt Reynolds' daughter in a new Carry On movie. She is tipped to play Rhoda Freely whose dad is called. get this, IP. Who says satire's dead?
successful alternatives for City and transport planning across the Atlantic. "The pier head district of downtown San Francisco was formerly a depressed economic area. dominated by an elevated motorway. During the 1990s people voted for its demolition.' he says. "The corridor formerly blighted by the motorway has been replaced by a Wide
of the roads lliEtJOT promoters. Hie inquiry reconve/ies on Men I? Jan at
boulevard and the area is now revitalised.' the Parish Hall (’96 (ieorge Street. (.ilt'isgow
4 THE LIST I I Dec 2003-8 Jan ’_()()4