Anger from politicians as cost of repairing Big Ben rockets to 82 mln USD

LONDON, Oct. 5 — The bill for repairing the world famous Big Ben
clock tower at Britain’s Houses of Parliament has more than doubled to
almost 82 million U.S. dollars, reports have revealed.

The cost of renovating the Elizabeth Tower was originally given as 39
million U.S. dollars, but 16 months later the amount has rocketed,
provoking anger from some House of Commons politicians.The parliamentary
authorities confirmed the new estimate for the work saying the additional
cost emerged after the project was found to be more complex and extensive
than originally thought.The Big Ben bongs were silenced on August 21 to
pave the way for the work, which the chimes staying silent until the early
2020s except for rare special occasions.

Labor MP Caroline Flint who is a member of the parliamentary public
accounts committee, told the Guardian newspaper that the official National
Audit Office should launch an inquiry into the project.She said: “For any
cost like this to more than double within a short period suggests we need
more rigorous scrutiny, week by week. It is an ominous
beginning.”Conservative MP Peter Bone described the rise as extraordinary,
telling the he was flabbergasted by the announcement.He told the Guardian:
“If you were building your house and the builders said it would cost 29,000
pounds and a few months later they said ‘it is now 61,000 pounds’ you would
have every right to be angry. I hope the authorities are looking at the
cost control of this project.”

In a joint statement the clerk of the House of Commons, the clerk of the
parliaments and the director general of the House of Commons, said: “We
acknowledge that there have been estimating failures and we understand the
concern of the commissions. In advance of tendering contracts, the initial
high-level estimates were set at a lower level to avoid cost escalation
from the market. Subsequent estimates, using better data and more extensive
surveys, better reflect the true likelihood of the costs.”Scaffolding is
already being erected around the clock tower and by the end of this month
the four famous clock faces will be hidden behind sheeting as work on the
clock continues. – XINHUA