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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 14 December 2018

Big Ben repair costs double to £61 million

The commissions overseeing the work at Westminster have agreed to set aside £61 million as opposed to the £29 million estimated last year

Scaffolders work on the Big Ben clock tower which is undergoing maintenance in Westminster, London. REUTERS/Toby Melville
Scaffolders work on the Big Ben clock tower which is undergoing maintenance in Westminster, London. REUTERS/Toby Melville

The cost of repairing the tower that houses London’s famous Big Ben has more than doubled.

It was previously estimated that renovations at the Elizabeth Tower would cost £29 million, but parliamentary authorities said on Friday that the bill would probably reach £61 million.

The House of Commons said there was now a greater understanding of the complexity of the project and the scaffolding needed to enable workers to reach heights safely, which has resulted in increased costs.

"We acknowledge that there have been estimating failures and we understand the concern of the commissions," the Clerk of the House of Commons, the Clerk of the Parliaments and the Director General said in a joint statement.

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Read more:

London's Big Ben falls silent sparking fear and soul searching

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It is the latest controversy in the Big Ben repair project. The news that the clock tower would fall silent during the repairs, in order to protect the hearing of workmen on the site, prompted criticism from Prime Minister Theresa May and misty-eyed nostalgia from other MPs.

Big Ben ceased chiming in August, and will remain silent until the repair works end in 2021, except for on special occasions such as New Year’s Eve.

Parliamentary authorities said they would look again at the duration of the project and the potential for hearing the bell's bongs more often.