Edinburgh Tram Inquiry: ‘SNP opposition made them butt of jokes’

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A former deputy lord provost has told Edinburgh’s tram inquiry he was excluded from meetings with council and TIE officials because he did not back the controversial project.

Giving evidence as the inquiry enters its fourth week, Steve Cardownie said councillors had difficulty accessing information as the project progressed.

The former SNP group leader said his party became the “butt of jokes” amid a general feeling there was “no point” giving them information because their opposition to the project meant it would simply end up “the front page of the Evening News”.

He said: “People were reluctant to engage us or provide us with information that they felt might be used against their own interests.

“I certainly know there was meetings held in the council with officials and elected members where I was excluded from because I was not in support of the tram project.”

When questioned, Mr Cardownie said this was between 2007 to 2012, the period when the Lib Dems and SNP were in coalition.

The inquiry, chaired by Lord Hardie, also heard from Michael Howell, chief executive of arms length company TIE from its inception in 2002 until his resignation in 2006.