‘Project at last is pointed in right direction’

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LIKE a failing football team, the city’s malfunctioning trams project has been the subject of almost as much managerial change as it has been of ridicule.

Chairmen and chief executives, of trams firm TIE, and a string of consultants have come and gone – with tough-talking new arrivals making big promises of improvement now their firm hands were on the rudder.

The project is now back where it should always have been, under the direct day-to-day control of the city council, and today its chief executive Sue Bruce speaks of mistakes in the past and her hopes for the future.

The difference with her predecessors is that Mrs Bruce has waited a year to voice these opinions – and she has spent much of those 12 months grabbing the horns of this particular runaway steer.

Is the tram going to be any cheaper as a result? No, it won’t. Will it come close to the original vision of a multi-line network serving swathes of the city? No.

But, thanks to the team led by Mrs Bruce and her new number two Alastair Maclean, one year on there is at least confidence that a viable line will be built, albeit just from the airport to St Andrew Square.

Only a fool would rule out further slippages in timetable or budget if yet more infrastructure issues arise as new tracks are laid. But no-one can deny that the project at least – and at last – seems to be pointed in the right direction.

Having waited until she could speak from a position of strength, Mrs Bruce is entitled to make the points she does about how the trams scheme was stymied from the start by “wildly inaccurate” predictions.

She would also be entitled to claim more credit for herself, though she prefers to give diplomatic nods to the contractors, mediators and her councillor bosses.

To be fair to those politicians, last year they did – eventually – make the right decision to plough on to the city centre. And with a local election in sight they have held the line and calmed the issue since then.

If nothing else, they deserve credit for picking the right woman to help whoever wins in May take the trams and the city council forward.

Storm warning

the readers’ photos we print today, after our extensive coverage yesterday, show the dramatic impact of Tuesday’s gales.

But questions remain over why there was so little warning before a storm which was much worse than that which earned a red alert a full day before it struck on December 8.

The Met Office and ministers must not be caught out again.