Another COP-up: MSPs can’t get beds in Edinburgh

Another COP-up: MSPs can't get beds in Edinburgh
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Oh dear. Ahead of the UN climate change summit in Glasgow on Sunday, Steerpike can bring fresh news of another COP-related blunder. Plagued by strikes and rejected by Greta Thunberg, the eco-jamboree is now afflicted by a lack of affordable accommodation, with ministers in the Westminster government unable to find rooms to stay. Savvy Glaswegians have not been slow to cash in, demanding £600-a-night to rent two-bedroom houses from desperate delegates.

And now it transpires that inept administrators in Edinburgh are not exempt from the perils of poor planning. Steerpike has been sent an email from the Scottish Parliament, informing MSPs and their staff that the usual hotel accommodation rules will have to be waived as politicians are unable to find room which meet the maximum cost threshold. It seems that no-one within the Scottish Parliament or the Scottish Government had the presence of mind to secure beds for the 129 MSPs, many of which stay overnight in the capital when Holyrood is sitting.

According to Mairi Pearson, Head of Allowances:

It has been brought to our attention that Members are facing difficulty in sourcing hotel accommodation in Edinburgh over the next couple of weeks or that where there is availability the prices are significantly above the normal overnight limits of the Scheme. The SPCB [Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Board] has agreed that should Members be required to come to Edinburgh for parliamentary business over the next couple of weeks, taking account of previous communications issued, and are unable to find accommodation within the current limits the Allowances Office have been delegated to approve additional costs on an exceptional basis. If you find yourself in this position please contact the Allowances Office with the details of the accommodation, nights of stay and cost you are seeking approval for prior to making any booking.

It's worth noting that the current rules allow MSPs, who earn more than £64,000 a year, to claim up to £144 a night. COP26 is moreover being held in Glasgow, some 40 miles away from Edinburgh, which perhaps illustrates the scale of the shortage facing conference attendees. It appears that organisers did not learn any lessons from the 2014 Commonwealth Games when they had similar problems then.

Still, perhaps Mr S is being too harsh on those in charge, for failing to foresee the obvious difficulties in inviting 25,000 delegates to a city with a notorious housing shortage. After all, they've only had 26 months to prepare...

Written bySteerpike

Steerpike is The Spectator's gossip columnist, serving up the latest tittle tattle from Westminster and beyond. Email tips to or message @MrSteerpike

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