Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson ‘lands taxpayers with a £300million bill’ because he objects to his VIP parking space at Parliament being used for building work on the £5billion restoration – but is he really trying to protect a nuclear bunker?
- Defence Secretary objects to plans to turn MoD car park into a building site
- Gavin Williamson is accused of trying to protect his VIP parking space
- It has been claimed Mr Williamson has ‘hit taxpayers with a £300 million bill’
- But it is understood the car park is close to a secret nuclear bunker from which the Government would be run in the event of all-out war
Gavin Williamson is at the centre of a Commons row over claims he has hit taxpayers with a £300 million bill to protect his VIP parking spot.
The Defence Secretary has told MPs and peers overseeing the £5 billion restoration of Parliament that he objects to plans to turn the Ministry of Defence car park – where his chauffeur-driven limousine is parked – into a building site.
One peer accused Mr Williamson of being ‘pampered’, saying: ‘It will cause delays and inconvenience which the consultants say will add £300 million to the cost.’
Objections: Gavin Williamson (centre) in his Government chauffeur-driven car. It is understood that the car park is close to a secret nuclear bunker from which the Government would be run in the event of all-out war
Insiders said the huge bill is down to hold-ups caused to the building timeframe because of restricted access for contractors’ lorries and alternative secure parking arrangements having to be set up elsewhere.
But a source close to Mr Williamson hit back, saying there were ‘extremely compelling security reasons’ to block the work, including sensitive issues relating to the actions of Special Forces.
It is understood that the car park is close to a secret nuclear bunker from which the Government would be run in the event of all-out war.
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The restoration, which is being studied by the joint committee on the draft Parliamentary Buildings Bill, follows warnings that the Palace of Westminster is becoming a ‘death trap’ beset by falling masonry, leaking pipes and lethal electrics.
The cost of the refurbishment, which has been billed as the most complex renovation of a building in Britain’s history, is spiralling towards £6 billion.
MPs are expected to leave the Palace in 2025 and move into a rebuilt Richmond House next to the MoD, which used to be the headquarters of the Department of Health.
The restoration, which is being studied by the joint committee on the draft Parliamentary Buildings Bill, follows warnings that the Palace of Westminster is becoming a ‘death trap’ beset by falling masonry, leaking pipes and lethal electrics [File photo]
Equipping the new building with a chamber and offices would require extensive work, which is why the contractors have requested to take over the MoD car park.
A source on the committee said: ‘We are going to take Gavin to task for this. I do not accept that these objections have validity.’
But a Whitehall insider said: ‘Our understanding is the cost given by the refurbishment team was £100 million. We are not sure how they have come to this [£300 million] figure.’
And a senior defence source added: ‘Even if you had a dozen trucks in there [Mr Williamson’s] vehicle would have room to park. This is simply about national security concerns.’
How nuclear bunker known as Pindar is connected to Downing Street by a where Britain’s future would be decided in the event of a catastrophe or conflict
The nuclear bunker is known as Pindar, the defence crisis command centre. It is a cluster of rooms from where Britain’s future would be decided in the event of a catastrophe or conflict.
The blue-carpeted, three- storey construction includes bedrooms, spaces for children, television studios, a decontamination suite, a briefing room with a wall of screens, document-shredders and a ‘current contingencies task room’ from where wars can be fought.
The bunker, which is accessed through a thick door in the basement of the Ministry of Defence, is widely believed to be connected to Downing Street by a secret tunnel.
It has capacity for 100 military officers, politicians and civilians – all specially selected – to live there for up to three months in the event of a nuclear attack on Britain.
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