The PR spending disaster that was the building of the Holyrood parliament will forever haunt major public works in Scotland. Every time a large and expensive project comes along, oponents will just shout “Holyrood” to justify their opposition.
But there are a few things about Holyrood that rarely get mentioned.
First of all, the original quote of £40m was based on a parliament building to house 129 MSPs and 129 associated staff. It never occured to the original designers that maybe there may be more people in there than that. So of course, the building needed to be bigger and so up went the costs.
Secondly, and this rarely gets mentioned, after 9/11 Westminster introduced much tougher rules for the construction of new public buildings. They had to be constructed from much tougher bomb-proof materials than had been previously been the case. And of course these things don’t come cheap and had not been taken into account in the original price.
Obviously there is way more to the whole debacle than the two points above, but it is far too simplistic to use Holyrood as an excuse not to build trams, or anything else. Otherwise we would never ever build anything ever again, not a motorway, a bridge, a railway line or even a by-pass.
And of course, you never hear those who go on about the costs of the tram system say anything about the stupendous and ever-increasing costs of the new Forth crossing or the M74.
But it is impossible to get consistency from the anti-tram lobby.