In need of repairs

By | Category: Travel destinations
Houses of Parliament

an iconic site known the world over

Last week it was announced that, over the next ten years, repair work to the tune of £369 million would be carried out on Buckingham Palace. Earlier MP’s and peers were told that repairs to the Houses of Parliament would cost £4 – £5.7 billion (depending on which story you read) and that they would move out so the work could be undertaken.

These two buildings are very important as tourist attractions drawing both domestic and international visitors to view as much as they can of them. Put an image of either to anyone in the world and chances are that the person would link it to London.

The questions that have been raised is should he funds be found to pay for either. Some MP’s have said that the Houses of Parliament are so unsuited to modern conditions that it would be better to have somewhere else for our legislative processes. Critics have said that Buckingham Palace isn’t one of the prettiest buildings and questioned the spend and the need for such a large building.

The problem with buildings is that the older they get, the costlier they seem to be to maintain. Look at how much cathedrals and abbeys have to raise to maintain them. Regular maintenance is preferable but politicians shy away from the impact on the electorate probably hoping that successor governments can take the flak when the time comes to finally spend the money.

The Houses of Parliament are a UNESCO World Heritage Site with part of the buildings (Westminster Hall) going back to William II in 1099. As such and to maintain that status, there is a requirement to preserve and repair. A million people visit it each year. To pay for the building, each year those visitors would have to pay £1,000 for the five or six years the refurbishment takes. That is plainly untenable so funds have to be found from the Treasury to pay for it. Is it worth it? Given that the buildings attract a million visitors and the repairs would not be needed for another fifty or even eighty years, you could justify the spend on tourist reasons alone.

the front of Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace

The same applies to Buckingham Palace. More people apply than can visit it during the times when it is open. It is estimated that half-a million people visited and millions more made the journey to watch the changing of the guard. So is £369 million over ten years justified. It seems a small sum compared to the Houses of Parliament. The usual crowd has objected to the money saying why should a family get this sum but Buckingham Palace is owned by the state not privately so the onus falls on the taxpayer. A petition calling on the royal family and/or crown estates to pay has attracted 116,000 signatures at the time of writing.

Both buildings represent the UK, Great Britain and/or England to the world. To let either decay to the point of demolition might seriously affect  tourism numbers to this country.

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