Now MSPs to get their own gym at Holyrood
POLITICIANS are set to benefit from a new gym at the Scottish parliament in their latest taxpayer-funded perk.
Talks are under way about whether to hire equipment such as treadmills, exercise bikes and cross-trainers to help MSPs beat the flab.
That is despite several gyms being in walking distance of the parliament.
Local people have to pay up to £65 a month for membership of private fitness clubs, such as the Scotsman Spa in nearby Market Street.
But MSPs and their staff would use the Holyrood one for free.
It comes just days after the SNP and Greens agreed a Budget that will hammer middle-class Scots with the highest income tax in the UK, while councils are preparing to slash services because of cuts. The gym was part of the initial design when the parliament was built and opened in 2004. However, the small, triangular room with floor-to-ceiling mirrors along one wall has never been used as a gym.
Instead, it is an occasional meeting room at the end of the corridor of offices belonging to Labour MSPs.
Harry Davis, campaign manager at the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said members of a public gym would expect refurbishments and improvements to be funded through fees.
He said: ‘When there are other perfectly good gyms within walking distance of the Scottish parliament, why should the one exclusively for parliamentary passholders and their staff continue to be subject to any taxpayer subsidy?
‘The parliamentary authorities need to cut any taxpayers’ money being diverted into this facility and, if necessary, introduce paid membership in order to cover its costs.’
However, one Holyrood insider was sceptical as to how many MSPs would opt for the gym after a hard day.
‘Opening a gym is considered by most to be a sensible move, provided costs are kept low,’ the source said.
‘Then again, I’m not sure MSPs really want to see their political opponents in their gym gear. And there’s no chance it will rival the bar for popularity.’
Willie Rennie, Scots Lib Dem leader, questioned whether it was necessary and encouraged fitness seekers to join him on a lunchtime run up Arthur’s Seat.
A Scottish parliament spokeswoman said she ‘can’t confirm or deny’, whether talks had taken place about the gym, which would cost taxpayers an estimated £7,000 a year, and insisted no decision had been taken.
‘No chance it will rival the bar for popularity’
FIGHTING WAISTS: Local gym memberships cost up to £65 a month