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Parliament on tour

3 July 2015 | Martin Read


Our elected representatives, newly returned to Westminster, are doubtless praying that no one works out that right now, with the wounds still fresh, is the perfect time to re-open the debate on electoral reform (As ever, they’ll want it to all die down as will inevitably do. Yet again).


But be that as it may, one way or another our honourable members will soon be grappling with quite the FM fit-out problem. Because, as we report in the news,  scenarios have been proposed for the renovation of the Palace of Westminster, on account of it being anything other than fit for 21st century purpose.


Anyone who’s visited the Houses of Parliament in recent years will have seen the sticking plaster projects in action as maintenance staff seek to stave off the inevitable. The cost of that prevarication is now going to be as much as £5.7 billion to do all the work necessary. That’s the figure arrived at by the Independent Options Appraisal report should politicians decide to stay put with work going on around them. The lowest amount in the IOA’s menu of options? £3.5 billion – still staggering, and an option in which Parliament is forced to leave Westminster for six years. Oh, and the £5.7 billion option? That could take as long as 32 years to complete. Years!


Our vote? Surely the latter option. Otherwise, imagine all that austerity rhetoric crashing up against a decision to spend an additional £2.2 billion on what would surely be a misguided decision to stay put. Madness.


And oh, what a story should Parliament go on tour. Because here’s what I’d like to see happen: those six years would see Parliament staying for at least two parliamentary sessions a pop in each of a total of 12 British cities (the public will vote on that top 12. That’s democracy in action! Local engagement in politics! I don’t know - local dignitaries might even mint special notes and coins to commemorate the sittings in Bristol, Belfast or Newcastle.


And then – this is the clincher – we’d be left with 12 richly detailed FM case studies, each acted out in the full glare of the British public’s national media. Because all 12 moves would need the carefully crafted and expert project management capabilities that only this profession can provide. They would also demand this country’s globally market-leading FM practitioners to pull it off – some of whom are already doing just such a job in other central government departments, to considerable acclaim. And good Lord, it would surely cost less in total than staying put in London. Security, cleaning, catering, worker wellbeing – not to mention maintenance, at the venues in which Parliament sits and, of course, back at Westminster.


FM’s value? Demonstrated in spades, my Lords. An example of British ingenuity and market-leading capability? I commend this decision to the House. FM is a British success story in search of a medium through which to show off its impact. A high-risk strategy? No, surely this is the time to think big and make this happen. The campaign to take Parliament on Tour in the capable hands of the FM profession begins here.


Martin Read is managing editor of FM World