Staff renovating Big Ben 'should work through the night' to speed up renovation process

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Staff renovating Big Ben should work through the night to minimise the time its bell is silenced for, a member of the committee that signed off the work has said.

Speeding up the work on the tower could be more expensive but if the work is completed in half the time “everyone benefits”, according to Sir David Amess.

Parliament said it will review plans to silence the Great Bell for four years after Theresa May joined the backlash against the move but the bongs will still be halted after noon on Monday.

MPs on the three Commons committees that approved the work did not know about the four-year silence when the plans were signed off.

Sir David, who was on the Commons administration committee, said the building is the “jewel in the crown of the country” and the restoration work should be carried out as quickly as possible.

He said: “Why shouldn’t there be a round the clock effort to get it done? As long as the costs aren’t crazy, we have got to be responsible.

“Even if it is more expensive, if it is done in half the time everyone benefits.”

Sir David said he had written to senior officials to raise concerns about the way the issue had been handled. 

“There seems to be a management failure here and MPs seem to have been left out of this.

“As a member of the administration committee I think this is very disappointing.”

His comments come after Theresa May said “it can’t be right” for Big Ben to be stopped for such a long period and called for the timescale to be urgently reviewed.

When MPs return from their summer break, the House of Commons Commission will “consider” how long the bongs should be halted following concerns raised “by a number of MPs”.


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