Letters: Tram extension project needs more transparency

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Have your say

Your article ‘Extending tramline won’t affect council budget’ (News, November 14) throws more doubt on the integrity of Cllr Andrew Burns’ administration.

His group’s 2012 manifesto stated that the outgoing administration’s “mismanagement of the tram project was embarrassing” and that “Labour is determined that the council will sit alongside Edinburgh’s people to decide what we really want for our city and work together with Edinburgh’s people to get things done.”

However, Cllr Burns now appears to be taking a diametrically opposite approach by allowing the latest Tram Business Case (TBC) to be held in a locked data room, viewed only by elected members, many of whom patently failed to comprehend the risks contained in the disastrous 2004 TBC.

Cllr Burns also fails to mention the £19m of annual interest payments on existing tram borrowing and the £16m annually being spent in propping up ongoing operating losses.

His current claim that additional borrowing for the tram extension will not affect the council budget is disingenuous, given that sketchy council papers state it would cost £9.5m annually, with £25m (on top of the current £5m annual dividend) being ripped out of Lothian Buses to make up the deficit in the capital budget and implications that bus services will be cut and prices increased, forcing commuters onto trams to ensure profitability “very quickly, almost overnight”, as Cllr Burns claims.

Given that council debt already stands at £1.35 billion, costing around 12% of a diminishing budget to service, and that there are imminent painful service cuts yet to be identified, I would suggest that Cllr Burns allow the public to scrutinise and comment on the latest TBC to ensure “that the people of Edinburgh are sitting alongside” on the tram extension.

John R T Carson, Kirkliston Road, South Queensferry

Newhaven link is right move for Capital

As key business and community interests working in Leith and north Edinburgh we, the undersigned, wish to urge the City of Edinburgh Council to recognise that completing the extension of the tram to Leith and Newhaven is now absolutely the right thing to do.

Nearly five million passengers over the past year have enjoyed a highly reliable service and 95% of them are satisfied with it. Extending the tram to Newhaven would be building on the success of this.

We are convinced that this is needed in order to make the city more accessible for everyone, including residents and visitors alike, less polluted and congested, more vibrant and more attractive for us all to live and work in.

Leith is, after all, one of the most densely populated areas of the UK and which, therefore ,requires the most efficient and reliable public transport services to sustain it. The Tram has proved to be just that.

We also understand the very challenging times facing the public purse and the CEC budget in particular right now. This is precisely the time, however, to recognise that the business case for extending the tram demonstrates very clear financial and environmental benefits over the long term.

We look to the CEC to take a positive decision to complete the tram network to Newhaven. In doing so it will demonstrating commitment to making Edinburgh and its waterfront a great place to live and a world class city for us all to enjoy.

Leith Chamber of Commerce

Forth Ports Limited

Port of Leith Housing Association

Ocean Terminal

Royal Yacht Britannia

The Kitchin Restaurant

Let bus passengers decide on contribution

After reading about bus fares going up to pay for a tram extension (News, November 11) it occurred to me that perhaps the council should allow individual residents to decide for themselves if they wanted to pay for the trams or not.

Why not keep bus fares at the same rate but any passenger who would like to contribute to an extended tram line could elect to pay extra? Let’s see how much money that would bring in. I suspect not even enough to reach London Road.

Helen K Gray, Murrayburn, Edinburgh

Better Together gang betrayed Scotland

Scottish tax workers now face redundancy. These people were used as pawns in last year’s referendum campaign.

Time and again workers at HMRC and in thousands of other public sector posts were warned their jobs would go if Scotland voted for independence.

Well the jobs are going anyway. This is only the beginning. UK government departments have committed to cutting their budgets by 30 per cent that has a knock-on effect for Scotland.

The Better Together brigade betrayed Scotland. Not only that, they said Scottish industries would suffer, like steel and ship building. And the Tories wonder why they are so unpopular in Scotland.

But come next May it’s payback time for the Tories. And don’t forget Labour - they voted with the Tories for austerity cuts. And when the vote was taken in the House of Commons about welfare cuts what did they do? They abstained. SNP MPs were hoping they would vote with them, but no, they took the coward’s way.

James Hill, Stenhouse Avenue, Edinburgh