Big Ben engineer entirely rubbishes bell's bong price

14 January 2020, 19:57 | Updated: 15 January 2020, 12:03

"The ability to strike the clock is all computerised now, so you could do it from your bedroom on a computer," this Big Ben engineer told Nigel Farage and said he "could not see" why the government are citing £50,000 per bong.

A number of MPs had pushed for the bongs to be heard at 11pm on 31st January, it is understood the House of Commons Commission ruled it out on cost and logistical grounds.

"I was fortunate enough to work in Parliament for a couple of years and one of my jobs there was to project manage the extraction of the clock mechanism itself and to replace it with the electric motor that's up there now," said the caller Mike.

He called the cost that the Commons Speaker cited "unbelievable" and said, "I can only believe that they're trying to claw some of the money back because it's so over budget."

Nigel asked if the government are trying to inflate the cost to "put us off from bonging."

"The ability to strike the clock is all computerised now, so you could do it from your bedroom on a computer," said Mike, the only person present would be an engineer to supervise.

"I cannot see where this price is coming from."

The caller was responsible for Big Ben bonging for the last few years during significant events such as New Year's Eve and Remembrance Sunday and said he'd "love" to see it chime again.

He reiterated, "Any strike that's undertaken now with the bell is done by an electric motor."

A House of Commons spokesperson said: “The statement by “Mike” is inaccurate.

"His comments do not take into account the extent of the work needed and the cost and delay to the overall programme Parliament’s expert team of clock mechanics have disconnected Big Ben from the clock mechanism, when the clock was removed for restoration.

"To ring the bells now require a temporary mechanism to be installed, connected to the clock, and tested before Big Ben can be struck.

"Work on the floor in the belfry, which recommenced on 2 January and was carefully scheduled to commence after New Year’s Eve to not interfere with work, will also be impacted. The work includes removing the entire floor in the belfry to investigate its current condition and finalise the scope of works; which may include significant structural works, resurfacing and waterproofing.

"This work will not be completed by 31 January, which is why a temporary floor would need to be installed and then removed.

"The final cost will depend on the scale and nature of the disruption to the works. In broad terms, the estimated cost is £120,000 to sound the bell, plus circa £100,000 for each week of delays.

"This estimate is based on the fixed cost of installing, testing, operating and dismantling the temporary mechanism used to sound the bell during the works, plus an allowance for each week that work on the project is delayed.”