Sir Robert McAlpine is being lined up for Big Ben restoration contract

 
Rebecca Smith
Big Ben is expected to fall silent while maintenance work goes on at Elizabeth Tower
Big Ben is expected to fall silent while maintenance work goes on at Elizabeth Tower (Source: Getty)

Construction and civil engineering giant Sir Robert McAlpine is being lined up to take on the job of refurbishing the capital’s Elizabeth Tower, which houses Big Ben.

The company was awarded scaffolding and pre-construction contracts worth around £3.5m back in November, and parliament has given it “preferred bidder” status for the refurbishment, expected to cost £29m overall, after scoring highest in terms of combined price and quality.

Read more: House of Commons hits back on row over Big Ben's bongs

Sir Robert McAlpine will price all the works packages making up the project and then offer up a final price for the works, which will be scrutinised by the House of Service as part of standard procurement procedure.

A House of Commons spokesperson said: "The procurement process for Elizabeth Tower conservation project is still ongoing, so we cannot yet confirm who will be awarded the contract. We expect to make an announcement in the autumn."

Sir Robert McAlpine declined to comment.

It was announced last week that Big Ben will fall silent for four years to allow for renovation work on the tower.

A parliamentary spokesperson said it was necessary to silence the Great Bell to “ensure the safety of those working in the Tower”. Under health and safety rules, the bell is being taken out of action in order to protect the hearing of construction workers on site.

But after Prime Minister Theresa May said it “can’t be right” for Big Ben to be silent for four years, and called on House of Commons speaker John Bercow to “look into this urgently” and review the proposals, officials have since announced the plan is under review.

A House of Commons spokesman has said that when parliament returns, the House of Commons Commission will consider the length of time that the bells will fall silent, after concerns expressed by MPs.

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