Scottish Government is preparing to publish a list of attendees and costs for
its Scotland House showcase during the Olympic Games, following queries from
Liberal Democrats that it spent £400k when it could have used an alternative
venue for free.
Scottish Liberal Democrat
leader Willie Rennie has claimed that spending £400,000 on hiring the Army and
Navy Club in London’s plush Pall
Mall to host Scotland House “when Dover House was available free
of charge is a colossal waste of money”.
Scotland House was host to
a week-long programme of events during the Olympics, with the purpose of
promoting Scotland as a
business venue and tourist destination, as well as highlighting Scotland’s
hosting role at the next major sporting games, the Glasgow 2014
Dover House, where the London headquarters of the Scotland Office is based, overlooks Horse Guards Parade, site of the beach
volleyball competition during the Games. A member of the Scottish Government
Games 2012 Team told meetpie.com he could not confirm what had been offered by
Dover House but “for a variety of reasons, not least the security aspect, access, noise
and from a logistical point of view, it wasn’t deemed suitable. Pall Mall was best suited to our needs.”
Speaking to the Liberal Democrat Voice, Rennie said: “An
invitation was made to the Scottish Government to use Dover House to promote Scotland, something that both the UK and Scottish
Government are keen to do during the Olympics. To say Dover House would not
have been suitable simply makes no sense. It smacks of putting party politics
ahead of taking advantage of the Olympics to benefit Scotland.”
Scottish Government has received requests for information under both the
Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and via Parliamentary Questions for a list of
visitors to Scotland House and their business capacity. It is now seeking
consent to publish from all attendees as part of Data Protection Act compliance.
The FOIA request has also demanded a list of MSP's that attended the venue
during the Olympic period, plus a break down of all the costs of staging the event
including rental, additional staff, catering, gifts and promotion.
Caron Lindsay of the Liberal Democrat
Voice, said: “Scottish taxpayers may well have something to say about their
money being unnecessarily wasted on Scotland House. It’s one thing to promote Scotland,
another to make the venture a divisive vanity exercise.”
In a statement, a Scottish Government spokesman said: “Scotland House hosted over 80 events and attracted more than 3,000 visitors. More than 500 business leaders attended events designed to bring Scottish businesses together with potential investors in Scotland, with a range of business meetings and potentially lucrative introductions laying the groundwork for potential new investment or new jobs in Scotland. As part of our normal and regular communication with the Consular Corps in Scotland, we wrote advising them about our activity during the Olympics and representatives of 16 countries came to Scotland House to make or renew connections to Scotland.
“Dover House did not meet our accommodation requirements for a range of reasons, including access, and the venue selected for Scotland House was the best base from which to promote dozens of events designed to showcase Scotland's interests to a worldwide audience."