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Black Country MP calls for 'new approach' over Palace of Westminster revamp

By Thomas Parkes | Wolverhampton | Politics | Published:

An MP from the Black Country has called for a "new approach" over the planned restoration and revamp of the Palace of Westminster due to coronavirus.

Stuart Anderson MP speaking in Parliament earlier this year.

Stuart Anderson said he would be unable to justify proposals to spend billions to ensure "nice conditions" for politicians when people were struggling.

The Wolverhampton South West MP said the restoration project was necessary, but stressed a proposed move to Richmond House would be too expensive.

Other options – including one suggested by Prime Minister Boris Johnson – could see a temporary Parliament created in York while work is carried out.

But instead Mr Anderson suggested politicians back the options provided as a result of the pandemic, such as remote working, as a way of continuing their work without spending out.

The MP said the restoration would be ongoing for a "long time" – but said he didn't think people would dispute that it was needed.

He said: "What I would have concerns about is continuing along the current trajectory without adjusting to these changes.

"The options provided before are now outdated by recent events and it is not beyond us to think of a more fitting solution.

"How will the great people of Wolverhampton feel when I explain the extensive cost that will be incurred for the move to Richmond House and for what reason?

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"To get a purpose-built facility while the old one is renovated? Or the billions of pounds involved to make sure MPs can work in the same conditions when the rest of the country is changing how they must work?"

The MP, in a speech to the House of Commons over the issue, said investment needed to be spread around the country – not just in London – during the pandemic.

"When constituents ask me why Whitmore Reans can’t have a walk-in surgery, or Kings School can’t have the money that it needs to fix the building, or even Punjabi United can’t have funding to support what they do in the community – do I say to the great residents of Wolverhampton that we can't have that as we have diverted too much money to making sure we have nice conditions in parliament?

"No, it is not something I will be doing. We need to level up the country and investment needs to be used around the country not just in London – we need to adapt and work around the restoration of this great site.

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"Too much has happened for us to simply sit back and take the same course of action. A new approach to what is necessary and what is vanity needs to be considered.

"I believe we can think of a new solution that not only restores the Palace but keeps us here working here in some adjusted normality, just like the rest of the country is having to get used to."

The Parliamentary Buildings (Restoration and Renewal) Act 2019 was signed off in October last year. It has seen a Parliamentary Works Sponsor Body set up to have responsibility over the restoration.

It will propose an outline business case for the revamp which is expected to be voted on by MPs in 2022 due to the delays caused by coronavirus.

Thomas Parkes

By Thomas Parkes
Senior Reporter - @TParkes_Star

Senior reporter at the Express & Star, based in Wolverhampton. Got a story? Get in touch at thomas.parkes@expressandstar.co.uk.

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