Letters: Agencies not blameless for tram bill going off the rails

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Martin Hannan’s article (News, October 25) asks many of the right questions which appear to have been ignored, or misinterpreted, by Edinburgh City Council in their headlong rush to launch the trams project.

However, he appears to ignore the overall responsibility of the Scottish Government for the £500 million of public money which has been squandered on this project.

Why did Transport Scotland continue to release money for a project that was being constantly reduced in size and only suddenly come to life when the decision was taken by the council not to waste any more money and stop the project at Haymarket?

This meant Edinburgh City Council had then to embark on its open-ended development of the line to St Andrew Square where no final figure for cost has been agreed.

This leaves the council in an impossible position as it has no idea of the final bill.

Why also has Audit Scotland happily gone along with the project when it should have been insisting that ministers stop the haemorrhaging of public money?

Audit Scotland and Transport Scotland bear a heavy responsibility for the waste of public money on this scheme.

Allan Alstead, Moray Place, Edinburgh

SNP opportunism on show again

ON Monday I wrote in this newspaper calling on the SNP and Lib Dem council administration to think again over plans to privatise local services like bin collections, street cleaning and ground maintenance.

I am delighted the SNP has finally decided to reject the proposals as reported yesterday (‘Privatisation in tatters as SNP rejects bin deal’), but the fact remains that together with the Lib Dems this group has signed off every report to date that has passed through the City Chambers.

SNP councillors have repeatedly okayed plans to look into privatisation, which has cost everybody in this city £2.2m – money which could have been spent on services.

With an eye to next year’s council elections perhaps, they have ditched the idea and claim to have “saved the day”.

SNP councillors have shown nothing but opportunism.

If this is a cynical ploy to position themselves away from the Lib Dems then the people of Edinburgh will see straight through these plans.

Sheila Gilmore MP, Edinburgh East

Lib Dem promises cannot be trusted

AT the last general election, the Lib Dems had in their manifesto a promise to hold an “in/out” referendum on membership of the European Union.

Now the House of Commons has debated that subject, yet the Lib Dem MP for Edinburgh West marched through the lobby against the motion despite being elected on a platform to hold such a referendum.

He will claim he was following orders given party leaders have imposed a three-line whip which betrayed their promise.

This is yet another example of promising something to farm votes while having no intention of keeping the promise.

Stewart Geddes, Silverknowes Crescent, Edinburgh

Care in England is sometimes best

I AM writing in response to your article on NHS waiting times (News, October 24).

We have a duty to ensure patients have access to high quality and timely treatment and, in general, there is a balance between the demand for our services and capacity.

However, to improve patient choice and provide faster access to treatment on occasions when demand is greater than capacity, we will look at providing elective procedures elsewhere within the NHS in Scotland or the north of England.

NHS Lothian’s geographical position means that, in many cases, it is easier for patients to travel to England than to other locations in Scotland.

This is a recognised and long-standing practice across NHS Scotland and is only used in a small number of cases. We continually review our capacity to keep the numbers asked to consider treatment outwith Lothian to a minimum.

Sandra Mair, deputy chief operating officer, University Hospitals Division