Letters: Legal time is running out for tram extension

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When the Edinburgh tram network was first proposed, Edinburgh City Council put forward two separate private Acts for the Scottish Parliament to approve to allow the lines to be built.

Edinburgh Tram (Line 1) Act 2006 received Royal Assent on May 8, 2006; and the Edinburgh Tram (Line 2) Act 2006 on April 27, 2006. The initial time to build the lines was five years, but this was extended subject to certain time limits. These limits have since been approved.

The work, as we all know, was delayed and the lines were curtailed. The first phase built and about to open was part of the plan for the line from Edinburgh Airport to Newhaven.

Recent announcements have suggested that the council wishes to carry on building the section from the city centre to Ocean Terminal via Leith Walk. The area around Leith Walk is part of the ‘Contribution Zone’ requiring those obtaining planning consent to contribute to the cost of the tram network among other things.

The article ‘2020 Vision for the Trams to Leith’ (News, March 26) confirms that contributions from developers are still required but will only be spent on the tram line and that the money is held separately for this purpose.

Developers on the Granton to Roseburn section have received refunds as this section of the tram network is unlikely to built in the near future.

The council planning department confirmed that 2020 is the date that the Scottish Government has reserved for the line to Granton to be built.

The council is carrying out a study and is to report back by the end of this year to see how the tram network can be extended to Leith.

In the meantime work will be carried out to tram proof the area at an additional £1m to ensure that the tram can go ahead when approved, without too much more disruption to local traders.

Gordon Macdonald MSP (SNP) pointed out to the Scottish Parliament recently that the initial powers gave 15 years for the work. Transport Minister Keith Brown confirmed that no further funding will be given as long as they are in power.

Sections 40 and 41 of the original Acts of Parliament detail the time periods. Both Lines 1 and 2 had only an initial five-year period as no one expected the delays and cost overruns that occurred. Provision had been given for a limited extension of time. Line 2 could be extended for a period of 15 years as is being quoted by MSPs, councillors and Edinburgh City Council. Line 1 was restricted to ten years.

When questioned about the difference in the time period, the Edinburgh trams spokesperson confirmed that it was always intended that Line 2 would be ready at a later date than Line 1.

One major problem for the council is that they have built Line 2 as detailed in the Act of Parliament, from the city centre to the airport. Line 1 is the line to Newhaven via Leith Walk. This has a ten-year limit.

Instead of having until 2021 to start the work, the time limit seems to be much nearer – May 2016.

Alastair Murray, Elliot Road, Edinburgh

Donald Anderson can defend his own views

I imagine that ex-council leader Donald Anderson is big enough to defend his own views without needing ex-Tory spin doctor John McLellan to ride to his rescue (Agenda, March 28).

I was challenging Mr Anderson’s vision of the city economy as one which is centred on footloose multinationals, building clone-town developments and dependent on consumer credit.

You might disagree with me, but it is a legitimate debate and quite how it is served by Mr McLellan’s silly little clichés about muesli, basket-weaving and eco-warriors is beyond me.

Gavin Corbett, Green Councillor for Fountainbridge - Craiglockhart

‘Local’ supermarkets better than alternative

Interesting article in Saturday’s Evening News about the supermarkets opening Local stores in various locations. I can only say that I’m all for them.

Before they came along we had some rather run-down convenience shops selling food and goods at high prices. Now we have clean stores and while the ‘Local’ version may be a bit more expensive that the bigger versions of their stores, prices are generally cheaper than what was on offer before.

I would rather see one of these shops on the main street than the endless phone shops, charity shops, bookmakers etc. They have filled up many gap sites in the high streets, and must encourage other shops to move there too, as more people will come to the area.

It is a bit like Marks and Spencer trying to keep Primark out of the Gyle. There are so many empty shop spaces in the Gyle now that many people must feel there isn’t much point shopping there.

More shops, mean more competition, which leads to more profit. If you can’t compete, get another job!

Alun Thomas, Sinclair Close, Edinburgh

Trams are leading the way in Nottingham

It was with interest that I read of the proposal to extend your tram system, hopefully securing European money as a contribution (£80m European loan could fund Leith trams bid, March 28).

Deciding to extend Nottingham’s tram line into a network was a route we also embarked on over ten years ago, before line 1 opened; work started on phase 2 two years ago.

Our suburban town, which will have trams along its main roads, is already seeing the benefits of this decision nine months before opening. The dated Square is being developed and work is under way clearing derelict eyesores. In 12 months’ time, I am sure we shall be the envy of the region and any pain during construction will be forgotten. Already we are debating where phase 3 will go.

Councillor Steve Barber, Broxtowe Borough Council, Beeston