Leader: ‘Lack of clarity and openness is damaging’

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The Capital’s tram project has been mired in mismanagement, 
obfuscation and widly excessive costs. Thankfully, it seems those problems have been largely put behind us now.

It will still be massively late and over-budget when, hopefully, it starts running next year, but the new council administration and its chief executive, Sue Bruce, appear to have got to grips with the worst of the problems, halting the endless spiral of setback after setback.

There has even been a bit of a buzz starting to build around the trams. Those who have been lucky enough to ride on one have been highly impressed, and anticipation is growing at the prospect of finally seeing what all our money is going to deliver.

That “rehabilitation process” is inevitably set back, however, when important steps in the project are taken without complete clarity and openness.

It is simply ridiculous to announce the creation of a new chief executive role to oversee the running of the trams and Lothian Buses, then refuse to disclose the salary which goes with the post, hiding behind the red tape of 
annual reports.

We know that the job has gone to an existing employee who is already very handsomely paid, and inevitably questions will be asked about whether his remuneration will now rise significantly.

The first questions which the public will ask about the new tram service is whether it offers good value for money. And it is the first question our politicians must ask, too.

The total cost of the trams is not just about meeting the bill for building work, it is also about the ongoing costs. Whether or not a phalanx of extremely highly paid executives is going to oversee it is a critical part of the answer.

Is it right that such an important decision is taken by a company committee without the approval of city councillors who will take the flack should things go wrong?