Jim Gray and Allan Alstead ask important questions about the trams and they deserve answers. In terms of public support for the trams, the public consultation on tramlines one and two attracted 84 per cent support, with over three thousand responses. Even tram line three attracted 74 per cent support.
Most of the main political parties supported the trams as well, and those parties attracted 75 per cent support at the council elections in 2007. Other than the SNP, which took an anti-tram stance, the only candidate to stand purely on an anti-tram ticket – the very able John Carson – attracted only 11 per cent support in a by-election. No policy should be decided by opinion poll, but public support – in the period I was a councillor – was demonstrated.
I am bound to contrast complaints about trams with the silence over the Borders Rail Link, where costs have risen from an initial £129 million to an estimate of up to £295m. It is a worthy project, but passenger estimates of 50,000, compare with 5.4m for the Edinburgh tram, and the business case is demonstrably worse. Scotland is also investing up to £1.6 billion (rightly) on a new Forth bridge. Both of these are very important for the economies of the Borders and Fife, but they haven’t been subject to the same scrutiny of trams.
Edinburgh’s economy is in fierce international competition for investment, and our infrastructure is a key factor in winning jobs. Edinburgh Park alone stands to benefit substantially from trams.
Edinburgh’s contribution to Scotland as a hub for growth can’t be in dispute. After the collapse of the banks, Edinburgh needs more investment to make it competitive, not less. Each year, Edinburgh makes a net contribution of around £100m to Scotland’s business rates. With the Scottish Government cap of £500m on trams, Edinburgh will have easily repaid that investment – and more – from the start of the tram works to their completion. We do need answers on what went wrong on trams, and I am happy to answer for my actions when I was a councillor. However, Edinburgh also needs to ask why investment in our city is almost invariably smaller and harder won than for other parts of Scotland. This scenario will ultimately result in Scotland, not just Edinburgh, losing both jobs and investment.
Donald Anderson, The Spinney, Edinburgh
Rose Street roof will transform area
The replacement of the worn out surfaces and damaged street furniture will probably result in some improvements to Rose Street (News, April 3).
Indeed most of this work should have been done over the years as part of routine maintenance. A reduction in the number of delivery vehicles would also be welcome.
The enclosure of the street with the roof, however, would transform the attractiveness of the area all year round and provide a city-centre shopping area which would be capable of rivalling what is already available in most other cities.
Duncan Bradon, Huntly Road, Melrose
New supermarket is poor decision
Once again Midlothian Council sees salvation in yet another supermarket, this time to replace the jobs of skilled bus drivers in Dalkeith.
There was once a Tesco in Dalkeith, and still would be if Midlothian Council had been more professional in its negotiations when Tesco Hardengreen was given planning permission.
Last year, Asda Straiton opened with the promise of 400 “new jobs”. New jobs? Or jobs displaced from local high street shops which close, or other supermarkets from which custom must inevitably be poached?
The irony is that Eskbank Road is already busy with traffic. The removal of bus services along it coupled with additional traffic going to and from a supermarket does not look like joined up thinking to me.
Ian Baxter, Green Party candidate for Bonnyrigg, Broomieknowe Gardens, Bonnyrigg
Exhibition is calm among the chaos
The Invisible Worlds exhibition in St Andrew Square is an interesting and perhaps calming distraction from the chaotic city centre.
More innovations like this will be needed in the future if the centre of Edinburgh is to maintain a futuristic and cultural image. Not only that but such exhibitions should remain free and accessible to all.
Angus Mcregor, Albion Road, Edinburgh