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Monday, November 05, 2012

"comforting to know that we can still be world-beaters"

  My recent letter in the Scotsman about how our public building costs are at least 8 times what they should be produced 2 good supportive letters on Thursday:

When an American tourist told Basil Fawlty that he owned the “crummiest, shoddiest, worst-run hotel in the whole of western Europe”, Major Gowen, the gin-soaked retired resident, sprang to his landlord’s defence, exclaiming: “No! No, I won’t have that! There’s a place in Eastbourne.”

At the risk of sounding like the major, I would take issue with Neil Craig (Letters, 31 October) that the 28-mile Aberdeen bypass costs are world-beaters. In fact, they are as nothing to the scale of costs of the recently completed M74 extension.

Using Transport Scotland’s 
distance of five miles (8km) for that project and Audit Scotland’s total cost for the extension of £692 million, this works out at a world record cost of £138.4m per mile!

This must have come as a shock to Dr Stephen Ladyman, who as roads minister in 2006 stated in answer to a House of Commons question: “The average cost for constructing a mile of motorway is £29.9m.”

It is comforting to know that we can still be world-beaters; the M74 extension, the new Forth bridge, the Scottish Parliament, and last, but not least, the Edinburgh trams, confirm the old adage: “Wha’s like us?”

Tom Minogue

Neil Craig is absolutely right about the excessive costs of the likes of the Aberdeen bypass and the new Forth crossing.

The Millau viaduct in France, the highest, longest, cable-stayed bridge anywhere, co-designed by Norman Foster and built by the French in only three years from 2001 to 2004, cost only €394 million. Just watch the video on YouTube.

We spend a substantial fraction of that simply in legal costs to get things started.

Where are you, Alex?

Peter Kent

   Tom Minogue previously wrote a guest post here, proving that not only is the new bridge grossly overpriced but that the old one can be maintained and have a 5th lane, tidal with the to/from work traffic, for a tens of millions at most.

   I like Fawlty Towers & can imagine both Holyrood and Westminster claiming the other as the equivalent of Eastborne.

  I have also had this response from a friend:

You make a good point. In my view, it costs more because they sign the wrong type of contract, where the over-runs and errors are for the clients account, as opposed to the contractors account.

Then there are too many hands on the tiller while the job is being done. Each hand not really knowing what the other hand is doing. Two classics are of course the Parliament and the Trams.

A lot of the money goes in dispute and litigation that we don’t even hear about as well. Not for nothing are some Edinburgh law firm partners enjoying £500k salaries. They have a ramp going, where they move the poor dumb client around their closed shop associated firms for “specialist” advice.
Sliceability as it is known in the legal and accounting professions..

Politicians and Civil Servants are just plain naïve. By definition they have to be, or they would have proper jobs.

Regards : Malcolm Parkin

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