Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Glasgow Sheriff Court (still) beats the Holyrood skip

I came across a chance pic I took of Glasgow’s Sheriff Court, and it brought the standard tear to my eye as it reminded me of Scotland’s shame in the shape of that skip sitting in Holyrood – the embarrassing £414 million money-pit sometimes known as the Scottish Parliament Building. Thankfully not credited to any Scottish architect, but a weird Catalan architect who succumbed to brain disease not long after it was completed (some might put two and two together regarding that). Seems his wife was no prize either, as I have memories of reading she wanted money for work done on the building after he was dead and buried.

Recent news of the Holyrood skip has reported it will come to the end of its useful life as soon as 2060: Scottish Parliament building ‘will reach end of useful life by 2060’

Again, just going by memory, that seems to be a mew claim or more recent figure, magicked up after an earlier claim was made a few years ago, suggesting it would only last 30 years (due to spiralling maintenance costs), taking it only to 2034 or so. I wonder where they found the additional 26 years from? (Maybe they just bought a box of hard hats, and anyone entering the skip will be obliged to wear one).

Now, after the scandal of the build price, they’re having to try to hide the ridiculously shabby build it paid for:

Architectural experts warn MSPs will have to approve a massive refit bill or face moving to a new building.

Speaking to a Sunday newspaper, architectural writer David Black said, “It doesn’t compare terribly well with the Scottish Parliament Hall in Edinburgh, which was built in 1639 and is still there.

“The Holyrood building has in-built problems. It is so ridiculously over-engineered.”

Peter Wilson, who was project architect for the Museum of Scotland, said: “The Scottish Parliament should have cost about £150 million if it had been managed properly. But it was totally mismanaged, though an inquiry, which was a whitewash, said no one was to blame.

“But you could say the building has more value than some of the occupants. If you replaced them with wall or loft installation, you wouldn’t know the difference.” A Scottish Parliament spokesman added: “Our annual accounts assume an initial 50-year depreciation period for the building, which is based on standard practice.”

Via Scottish Parliament building ‘will reach end of useful life by 2060’

I wonder how many remember the stories of loose and falling beams, not long after the skip opened, now possibly all deleted to hide its near immediate failure.

Yet Glasgow’s Sheriff Court, a building that has to be reasonably secure and robust, and fit for purpose, just seems to amble along and do its job without fuss, disaster, or scandal.

It even managed to become the first post-war court facility in the country to be named as a listed building in Scotland.

Glasgow Sheriff Court across the river

Glasgow Sheriff Court across the river


Sep 30, 2017 Posted by | council, photography | , , | 2 Comments

The Holyrood skip is featured on a stamp

No matter how many times ‘They’ try to retell history, make up ‘Alternative Facts’, or claim that the Holyrood Skip aka the Scottish Parliament Building was never estimated at something like £40 million, and that the final accounting of something more like £430 million – I won’t buy it.

Oh! My mistake – I paid tax at the time, so I was FORCED to buy it, no matter what it cost.

For example (just one link, I don’t have enough time left to list more): MSPs ‘deceived’ over Holyrood costs

And it made a list too: Great British building blunders

The Scottish Parliament – 2004

In arguably the most spectacular mismanagement of public finances ever, the original estimate for the construction of the Scottish Parliament building, Holyrood, did not even cover the final tax bill.
Over nearly 10 years projected costs of £40m ballooned to a final bill of over £400m as design changes, overruns and a hugely ambitious architectural specification turned what should have been the pride of Scotland’s burgeoning political ambition into a major embarrassment.
In attempting to design a building that reflected both the geography and culture of Scotland, the joint Spanish/Scottish architectural team EMBT-RMJM created mountains of extra costs.

While I have no interest whatsoever in the politics, I will never forgive those responsible for their choice of architect, his wife (who apparently came knocking on the door for more money after he died), and the pile of rubbish foist on Scotland, beaten by the Scottish weather and leaking (water in, and heat out), and then also apparently needing yet more spent not long after completion to upgrade its poor security.

Worse still, reports noted back in 2014 suggest will be cheaper to demolish the heap after it has been standing for only 30 years (due to spiralling maintenance costs).

So, I’m not quite sure why anybody would want to have a stamp issued to commemorate a national embarrassment and a skip, but it seems they did:

Scottish Parliament and Armadillo celebrated with new stamps

SeSco was lucky enough to be given an early look at one of the designs, featuring a view of the Scottish Parliament in session in the £430 million Catalan architectural ‘gem’.

Holyrood Skip Stamp

Holyrood Skip Stamp

The BBC also had the story of the new stamps, but wisely avoided any mention of the Holyrood skip in its story, although it did include a pic (probably had to, to avoid accusations of pro-Glasgow bias) – but that means little since it also had pics of all the other places featured on the new stamps.

SEC Armadillo features in new special set of stamps

Jul 15, 2017 Posted by | Civilian | , , , , | 1 Comment

Modern Orcadians might want to check on their MSP

Groundkeeper Willie Fox release via WPOne again, I seem to be forced into the arena of political madness as it seems the people of Orkney have an MSP who was keen to get his name in the media foe any reason, even if just to be pilloried. (I should write a political blog, it’s so easy – people just throw stories out to be collected.)

While the following major issue could, and should, probably have been dealt with through a few emails or a phone call, Orkney MSP Liam McArthur is reported to have lodged a Parliamentary Motion over the matter:

One of the most popular supporting characters from the hit US TV show The Simpsons has been revealed as hailing from Kirkwall.

The Orkney origins of Groundskeeper Willie, Springfield Elementary’s curmudgeonly janitor, will be divulged in an episode to be screened in the US later in February.

In the episode, flame-haired Willie is shown as a young Orcadian born of a ‘Doonie’ father and an ‘Uppie’ mother in a family torn apart by the rivalry of The Ba’, the island’s traditional festive football game.

The revelations came in an interview with Simpsons writer Rob Lazebnik broadcast on Radio Orkney on Thursday morning where he discussed the episode, titled The Daughter also Rises.

Following the announcement, Orkney MSP Liam McArthur has called on Glasgow City Council to remove the character’s name from its website, where it is claimed Willie – whose full name is William MacDougal – is a famous Glaswegian.

Mr McArthur said: “We know that those with Orkney roots are to be found far and wide across the globe. It should come as no surprise then that the Orkney diaspora has even reached Springfield USA.

“I was concerned to note, however, that Glasgow City Council have made moves to claim Groundskeeper Willie as one of their own by listing him as an ‘alleged’ son of their city.

“In light of recent, incontrovertible evidence and to avoid any future confusion, I have written to the Leader of Glasgow City Council, requesting that they renounce the claim on their website, and in any other relevant materials.

“A Parliamentary Motion has also been lodged to this effect.”

Via The Simpsons: Groundskeeper Willie’s Scots roots revealed | Aberdeen and North | STV News

In the same report, Glasgow City Council replied:

A spokesman for Glasgow City Council said: “We’re confused because Willie has previously described himself as being the ugliest man in Glasgow.

“Perhaps he is from Orkney, but like everyone else in the world who’s not Glaswegian, he just wishes he was. We’ve changed our website to reflect his new claim

As an apolitical creature, I really don’t know much about what duties an MSP is supposed to perform, but this is surely an utterly pointless and complete waste of Parliamentary procedure, whining about the fictitious genealogical background of an American cartoon character.

He MAY have had some sort of case to fight if GCC had denied the claim, and refused to change any reference it had to the character – but that didn’t happen.

He obviously has too much time on his hands – I’d be sending him for a few days holiday to consider his future if he worked for me (and placing some adverts about an upcoming vacancy in Orkney).

(The fuss was fine and fun – escalating the matter to Parliament was not.)

Feb 12, 2012 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , , , , | Leave a comment

There’s been an architectural murder

GloveWhile it could have provided an appropriate setting for the investigation of numerous murders, not least architectural design, style, and taste, and not forgetting those of project management and finance management, it seems that thoughts of filming some parts of a Taggart episode within the money-pit that now houses the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood in Edinburgh have been quashed, according to a story from STV published in November 2008.

Looks as if the producers tried to gain favour with the site owners, and stated the overspend as only being four time original estimate, and not the more usual ten times (which is probably the closer of the two), and gave the cost of the eyesore as only £400 million, while it was probably closer to £430 million. But what’s £30 million after all? Mere loose change when you’ve squandered hundred of millions.

If the architect hadn’t died of a medical condition partway through the build, it might have been an interesting storyline for the Taggart team to figure out how his body came to be lying at the foot of the partially completed structure, and they could have worked on the case of whether it was a guilt-driven suicide, or if he was pushed by a taxpayer, as the cost of project spiralled out of the control, and the Scots were taken for mugs that just had to keep pouring money into the build once it had started.

If the overspend part wasn’t true, there’s probably not a producer around that would have taken the financial debacle of the Scottish Parliament as a credible storyline, and would have rejected it as “unbelievable”.

Possibly more worrying was the revelation that First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond MP MSP wants to star in Taggart – and note that the word star was used, not simply appear – you’d think, and hope, the First Minister of Scotland had more serious aims.

For non-Taggart watchers, or those that came late to the series – only the longest running police drama on television in the world, having recently celebrated its 25th year, and only three away from its hundredth episode – the gloved hand was one of the early stars, often seen committing the crime, but not identified. Seems kind of appropriate where the Scottish Parliament building is concerned.

May 1, 2009 Posted by | Civilian | , , , | Leave a comment


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