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Truth will out

e2toe4's picture
on Wed, 11/19/2014 - 21:14

This website contains a lot of source documents, records of votes, council papers and comments on history of the tram project.

In 2011 the City of Edinburgh borrowed £276M to finish some of the tram line that had by then consumed virtually all the £545M without anything of any significance being built.

The Council borrowed the money because back then they wanted *something* to show for years of well documented abject failure.  The tram as originally conceived was dead and nothing could bring it back--no specific deliverables of any kind remained in the wreckage.  All the original justifications had vanished and only clear disbenefits and bad outcomes remained.

A city administration and bureaucracy already struggling with traffic management amidst a history of failed projects and lack of imagination felt that to abandon the project would crystallise so much public anger that the decison was taken to finish something...anything at whatever the cost.

The cost was to be somewhere around double the capital sum borrowed, with the interest payments.

A real cost somewhere around £15 to £18Million unbudgeted pounds a year every year for 3 decades...until around 2040.

But it got worse.

To make sure other possibilities under consideration, including abandonment and stopping at Haymarket, didn't somehow get through figures were produced that made the option to build on along Princes Street a *no-brainer*... stopping at Haymarket would (amazingly) cost almost as much as pressing on and in addition that option would lose £4.5 Million EVERY year in operating costs.

While pushing on to St Andrews Square would MAKE £2.5M a sum that would be able to set against that big borrowing bill, and at least reduce it a little.

Even so the Haymarket option WAS adopted because of fears that air pollution would soar across the city with the displacement of traffic needed to allow the tram to run safely on roads.

But in an unprecedented few days that decision was overturned by the Labour and SNP ruling alliance.

Yet within weeks it was revealed that the cost of building to Haymarket had been over-estimated... by around £100M, and so, regrettably the previous figures suggesting both options were very close in cost had been *wrong*.

Shortly after this came the first of a series of revisions of the £2.5M expected to be made, first revised downwards and then, after disappearing altogether, a series of ever higher operating losses were projected. Culminating in the final one (to date) that the track was now expected to make a LOSS of £3.5 Million every year (for the "forseeable future"-which in reality can be taken to mean "forever").

This wouldn't now be deducted from the £15 to £18 Million unbudgeted loan costs--but added to them.

The council have always tried to shrug off this annual cost and portray anyone bringing it up as a whinging 'nay sayer' with a grudge against trams in general.

However, as we said at the time both at meetings and on this website, the tram's utter lack of any meaningful ability to contribute anything positive to the city was not the worst of the decision to press on at all costs...the worst of it would be seen every year for 30 years with as much of £20 Million real pounds being needing to be found that could not be spent on other things.

(Well the worst is the pollution, congestion and degredation to daily life from the increased traffic displaced to residential streets--but that's another story elsewhere on our site)

And so here we are in 2014 and the Council have a little #edinbudget game running on their website now until December 19th  (click to play it) which shows the tough choices in every area needed to find savings which as they say themselves, in typical *Hey...Wow...who'd have thought it!* style:

"The City of Edinburgh Council is facing a budget challenge. We need to change the way we allocate resources across our services and reduce the amount of money we spend each year by £67m by 2018. So we have some decisions to make about where we invest our money and where we need to save.

This is your chance to have your say. Play your part with this online planner and tell us how you would balance the budget!"

 

Hang on a minute.....  £67M in around 4 years is £17 Million a year.... a bit less as it happens than the £20M or so blown on the wonga tram loan and it's interest, and the operating loss, taken out in our name to 'complete' their half sized project.

So do have a go and move the sliders and see the options....and take the chance to see exactly what the  "Opportunity Cost" of the tram looks like.

This 'Opportunity Cost' was deliberately ignored by the Council when hell-bent on covering their own embarassment with £20 Million of public money a year for 30 years to get something ------ anything ---- built.

They're not ignoring it now.

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