Now MSPs to get their own gym at Holy­rood

The Scottish Mail on Sunday - - News - By Gareth Rose

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

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