THERE could hardly be two clearer lines in the sand of the trams fiasco than the winding up of TIE just as preparations are made for the first vehicles to run in Edinburgh.
Unfortunately, there hasn’t been such a turnaround in the project’s fortunes that passengers will whizz from the airport to the city centre any time soon. But, as we report today, test running is expected to begin at the Gogar depot in less than two months.
It won’t surprise anyone who has followed the scheme to find that even this is well behind schedule. But progress is progress, and the arrival of the first vehicles from Spain will reinforce the claim that things are back on track after a £770 million deal was thrashed out between the council and its contractors.
With such optimism in the air, the time is surely right for everyone involved to back the News’ campaign for an immediate public inquiry.
As we have said repeatedly, this is necessary not just to call to account those whose mistakes led to delays and escalating costs. More than that, the whole nation needs to know why those mistakes were made so we can avoid a repeat in future projects.
No-one will mourn TIE, but there is a danger that now that the firm is out of the way everyone else involved, and especially the politicians, will use it as a whipping boy.
Many who worked there may indeed deserve a whipping – metaphorically, of course – but the suspicion is that blame should be spread more widely. Only an inquiry will tell us for sure.
You do the maths
After years of campaigning, parents will rejoice at the prospect of one of the city’s worst school buildings finally getting replaced.
The council hopes to take advantage of collapsing land values to snap up part of the old Fountain Brewery site and build a new home for Boroughmuir High.
Just 500 metres from the current school, with enough space for proper sports facilities at last, it looks like a great opportunity.
Let’s hope the local authority can seal a deal and deliver the much-needed new school by 2015.
The Scottish Government will pay two-thirds of the costs, which could reach more than £50 million. The only worry is where the council will find its one-third share.
On top of debts of £1.3 billion, it plans to borrow £230m for the trams, £84m to kickstart the Waterfront redevelopment, £55m to invest in affordable homes and even £1.7m for a Gaelic school. Kickstarting local development is welcome, but the borrowing has to stop at some point.