Dawe ready for tram probe now

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City leader Jenny Dawe has written to First Minister Alex Salmond to tell him that she is ready for an immediate public inquiry to get under way on Edinburgh’s tram project.

Councillor Dawe previously said she feared any inquiry before next May’s local elections would turn into a “political blame game”. In the letter, expected to be received by Mr Salmond today, Cllr Dawe said that her administration would “offer its full co-operation and assistance to a public inquiry” and said that they were “in a position of readiness to do that at such time that you wish to call a public inquiry”.

Mr Salmond has always said he wants an inquiry “once there is greater clarity about the direction of the project”, but has refused to be drawn on the issue since the council reinstated its decision to build the line to York Place.

When asked by the Evening News about the timing of the inquiry, Cllr Dawe said: “My view all along has been [to have an inquiry] as long as it does not take people away from the job of delivering the tram.

“I do not think it would be the distraction now that it would have been a few weeks ago.”

She said she believed any inquiry would focus on the original contract with the consortium, the decision to set up TIE and the relationship between TIE and the consortium.

When asked if she believed that any political party or group would emerge from an inquiry as faultless, she said: “It is very difficult to say but there was agreement between parties at many stages. I would not like to speculate but I believe this administration, particularly the Liberal Democrat part since we did not have the agreement of the SNP, will not come out of it as having committed any wrongdoing – but that is up to those doing the public inquiry.”

The Labour group had tabled a motion for next Tuesday’s policy and strategy committee calling for Cllr Dawe to write to Mr Salmond asking for preparations for a public inquiry to begin.

Cllr Andrew Burns, leader of the Labour group, said: “If she has written to the First Minister, then I wholeheartedly welcome that change of heart.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We are very happy to have a public inquiry, and will do so once the full circumstances can be examined.”

mblackley@edinburghnews.com

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