POLITICS

£65,000 Renovations To House Of Lords Toilets

25/08/2013 11:10 BST
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female hand in pink rubber...

Where does it cost £65,000 to spend a penny? In the House of Lords, and that's cheap at the price.

Eye-watering renovations to two toilets used by peers and VIP guests in Parliament could cost the five-figure sum, but that's £35,000 less than first estimated, according to the House of Lords.

Westminster City Council has granted planning permission to the project, initially valued at between £90,000 to £100,000, which includes removing two urinals, revamping two existing toilet cubicles and creating space for a third loo which complies with disability access legislation.

The lavatories in the House of Lords' Salisbury Room area give a "poor image" of the Palace of Westminster and are in an "unacceptable condition for the high profile area they are in", a House of Commons contract put out to tender via website government-online.net stated.

Campaign group the Taxpayers' Alliance previously criticised the "eye-watering sum" of taxpayers' cash expected to be paid out to allow VIPs to "spend a penny".

But the House of Lords has said it now expects the work to cost between £65,000 and £70,000.

The refurbishment - the first in more than 20 years to the loos - is expected to take 42 days to complete and start before the end of August.

Currently there is one cubicle and two urinals in the men's toilets and one cubicle in the women's toilets, according to the House of Lords.

Drawings lodged with Westminster City Council suggest space currently used for the female toilets will house a cubicle for men and a cubicle for women in the future.

The existing gents' toilets will be turned into a cubicle which complies with disability access legislation, according to the drawings, which boosts the number of loos to three.

A House of Lords spokesman said: "Although the fixtures, fittings and decoration will be quite run-of-the-mill, the re-modelling of the space to allow an accessible toilet to be installed will include some demolition work, the installation of a new wall, some further structural work and joinery.

"It is this work, rather than the toilets, sinks and tiling, that will make up the bulk of the costs.

"All procurement undertaken by the House of Lords includes a determined focus on value for money for the taxpayer while meeting the requirements of relevant legislation."

Twelve companies expressed an interest in carrying out the work. Paragon was awarded the contract, which also lists a need to install historic oak panelling.

The toilets were first installed during the summer recess of 1937 following a review of the provision of lavatories in Parliament.

The tender document states: "The toilets are principally used for members and VIP guests of the Palace of Westminster.

"The lavatories are in an unacceptable condition for the high profile area they are in and they give a poor image of the Palace of Westminster. A refurbishment is required urgently to bring the amenities to a standard that reflects a World Heritage site."

In 2011/12, the House of Lords spent £15.252 million on estates and works. This covers the Lords share of the cost of maintaining the entire Parliamentary Estate, including the Palace of Westminster.

As the Palace is a grade one listed building, work has to be carried out in line with English Heritage requirements, which can lead to increased costs.