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56- Were Copuncillors told last week?

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  • Did Edinburgh Council and Tie tell the councillors what was going on before announcing to the world that the project was £hundreds of millions over budget  and Princes Street would be dug up yet again?

 

  • Is the Board of TIE really telling us they have no idea whatsoever how much even the remants of the original scheme will cost?

 

  • If this is so how can the ‘refreshed’ Business Case retain a shred of credibility

 

Last week under extreme pressure TIE were left with no alternative but to finally start revealingsome of the extent of the effects of the flawed planning that from the beginning has marked the Edinburgh Tram Project.

That extraordinary press conference shone a light at last on some of the things TIE and CEC have worked extremely hard to keep hidden for over a year— the growing chasm between the costs of the project and the budget being one of them; something strenuously and repeatedely denied until as recently as last month.

Councillor Gordon Mackenzie, the convenor of the key Council committee (Transport, Infrastructure & Environment) which has nominally meant to have been controlling the project on behalf of the people of the city, quoted this week:

Gordon Mackenzie, the council's transport leader, said: "My understanding is that the cost of getting a line to St Andrew Square will be substantially more than £600m. That is inevitable now, although the final figure is still an unknown."

Councillor Mackenzie is also a Full Board Director of TIE.

Is he really saying that the Board of Tie’s best advice to the Council is that they no longer have a clue what anything will cost?

So how can he and his Board Room colleagues continue to proclaim their faith in the ‘refreshed’ Business Case which only a few weeks ago was being founded on the Tram reaching York Place for £545M?

It is also becoming clear that councillors, supposedly having to prepare for a vital Council meeting to debate and decide the Tram’s future, were as surprised as everyone else to hear that Princes Street is to be dug up for another 9 months despite the fact that this Light Rail system now faces the clear prospect of being scrapped altogether.

Councillors must surely regain control of both the TIE Company and their own Council employees.

Quotes and contact details

 

Dr Ashley Lloyd, Chairman of one of three Workshops working to find ways forward on various aspect of the project said:

 

“The announcement, that just months after the chaos and upheaval on Princes Street ended it is to be done all over again, illustrates better than any words the chaos of a project that has totally lost its way.”

 

“TIE who just a few weeks ago wre still saying the original £545M would cover the route being pushed to York Place, now says it might be £600M, or even more, just to get to Haymarket.  Experts working in our group were saying this in open letters months ago, most recently within the last fortnight, and yet have been consistently ignored and sidelined.”

 

“CEC and TIE often seem more involved in spinning stories to present the project in the best possible light rather than facing squarely up to facts and problems besetting it.”

 

“The announcement that Princes Street is to be dug up again simply highlights the chaos into which the project has descended isn’t just in it’s finances–but even now the Council and TIE refuse to face up to an even worse aspect; that of the wilfully created pollution that will spread across the City unless the decision to run what is in effect a Light rail system unable to share it’s route with general traffic is reconsidered.”

 

“The Council are now clearly and unambiguously shown to have been wrong in every key financial statement made about the project in the last four or five years--- it is vital they wake up and address properly the question of health damage that will ensue from the increases in pollution engendered by the Project.”

 

“It must be realised before it’s too late that ‘pressing on’ is exactly the wrong thing to do.”

 

Dr Derek Shepherd, formerly of Aggreko said: “I share Dr Lloyd’s concerns and that is why I have stepped forward to work with him, and the increasing number of other people, and accepting that, serious as the financial catastrophe now is, it could be dwarfed by the damage to the health of people forced to live next to roads suddenly grossly congested by traffic evicted from our City’s historic main thoroughfares.”

 

“In Singapore, on a similar Light Rail Rapid Transit system upon which I worked, we raised the railway on stilts to avoid this problem. However it seems that in the case of Edinburgh and at an early stage, this, and every other possibility was dismissed, in favour of capturing the roadway and evicting the traffic formerly using it.”

 

“The financial disaster now unrolling is not so much an unfortunate coincidence as an inevitable outcome of a plan that was flawed at the very beginning.  The pollution problems also arise inevitably from those initial decisions and as the Report in 2003 shows these pollution effects were clearly foreseen even at that time.”

 

We simply don't know what the cost of building a tram line to St Andrew Square is going to be,

 

 

“This above from Leader of the Council Jenny Dawe illustrates graphically the increasing chaos amongst the people running this project, and taken with the statement reported from Councillor Mackenzie is extremely worrying.”.

 

“The Council leader went on to say”:

 

 

‘…. butit absolutely has to go into the city centre as the businesses case would not be viable if it only goes as far as Haymarket. There's no doubt about that.

 

“However here is plenty of doubt that any business case for the tram continues to exist at all as the recent ‘refreshed’ Business Case is based upon the original £545M cost…yet that is going to rise to £750M and even beyond that figure possibly.”

 

“In effect the Council’s own statement designed to shore up the case for continuing with the project under the circumstances has effectively destroyed it.”

 

Alistair Laing widely respected former Civil Engineer and another person working on the voluntary workshops to find a solution to the problems besetting the project said:

 

“The announcement to re-lay the lines in Princes Street, the excuses for the need to do this, and the evidence this presents of a project careering from crisis into a chaotic catastrophe, is very troubling.”

 

“In the upside down world of TIE every new disaster becomes a reason for an upbeat Press statement that all is well and everything going to plan.”

 

“If it turns out TIE and Council employed staff concocted their plan and unveiled it ahead of the Council meeting it may be time for the new government to step in and start to draw a line under this disaster, before it bankrupts the City.”

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-   ENDS