The Elizabeth Tower holding the iconic Big Ben bell needed some repair.
It was decided that this repair should go ahead.
So the parliamentary authorities called a restoration company, who presumably came and looked at h job and estimated £29 million to do the job over a period of four years.
Because of the proximity of workmen to the bell (and the fact that the parliamentary clock team were going to take the opportunity to repair and service the clock), it was estimated that the chimes of Big Ben would not be heard for four years while the work progressed. (Can you imagine what working in the bell tower while the massive bell rang out on the hour every hour every day, would do to people’s hearing?)
This caused an uproar in the houses of parliament and, even in the middle of Brexit worries, the exalted personage of the prime minister, her right honourable self, complained about the length of time that the bell would be silenced.
Mrs May said: “Of course we want to ensure people’s safety at work but it can’t be right for Big Ben to be silent for four years. And I hope that the Speaker, as the chairman of the House of Commons commission, will look into this urgently so that we can ensure that we can continue to hear Big Ben through those four years.”
Mrs May is good at making a lot of noise about little things, but less so when it comes to anything important.
Note from Munguin: This is an old story, Tris, what’s your point in raking it up again, amusing though it was.
OK, Munguin, keep yer scarf on. I’m getting to that.
Anyway, it seems that the repairers weren’t too expert on the old estimating part of the job. And instead of the £29 million quoted a few months ago, it’s actually going to cost £61 million. Well, at least until the next update!
A spokeswoman for the House of Commons told the Press Association: “The commissioners expressed their disappointment in the cost increases, and the unreliability of the original estimate. But they reiterated their commitment to preserving the Elizabeth Tower and Great Clock for future generations.”
Just two brief observations, then:
I assume that, given the more than doubling of the cost, the length of the project will increase by a similar proportion. So maybe 8-9 years before Big Ben is heard over London again? How will the MPs who were crying at the final “bongs” ever manage? What will May say?
And, of course, it is worth noting that the repairs to the tower are only a tiny part of the total renovation of the parliamentary buildings which has been variously estimated as costing £4 billion, £5.7 billion, and £7.1 billion and taking up to 30 years.
Does this mean that we can expect to pay up to £15 billion and wait over 60 years for the builders to finish?
Who organised this chaotic mess? Oh yeah, the British government! Nuff said.
Oh yeah, the British government! Nuff said.
And they think they can deliver Brexit????