LETTERS: Tram extension carries greater risk to finances

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Councillor Rose’s letter (‘Trams extension plan full of financial holes’, November 26) gives hope that we have, at last, one council group capable of understanding this complex issue. His four-point assessment is valid and each would be reason enough for scrapping the tram extension.

Given that all of these are being ignored by the remaining political groups, perhaps the following will cause them to reconsider.

Page 59 of the Outline Business Case states that, ‘The graph below illustrates the impact on the three main sensitivities for affordability – patronage (10% reduction), airport fares (10% reduction) and construction costs (25% increase) – on the first 20 years of CEC cumulative cash flows together with the cumulative impact should these 3 sensitivities occur simultaneously.

‘Should all sensitivities occur at the same time, the initial funding gap would increase from £25m to £34m’.

However, the graph itself on page 60 shows a funding gap of approximately £60m for this scenario. This represents an increase of £26m on a scenario, which (given past performance where costs per kilometre soared by nearly 500% from 2005 to completion, costs Cllr Burns was responsible for in 2005 in his role as Convenor) would seem highly likely.

Cllr Burns, the council chief executive officer and the board of Lothian Buses must confirm before the council considers whether to progress this plan further at its meeting on December 10 how a £60m shortfall would be met and whether Lothian Buses’ accounts are substantial enough to have this sum paid as dividends without compromising their viability.

As it seems the tram ‘extension’ is to take precedence over supporting existing council services, Cllr Burns should at least recognise and publicly acknowledge that the project now has significantly more risk than he initially claimed and how he would protect both the council’s and Lothian Buses’ respective financial positions, should the latest tram business case, like his previous one, prove to be overly optimistic.

John RT Carson, Kirkliston Road, South Queensferry

Labour exploit Syria issue to oust Corbyn

As a former active member of the Labour Party I am disturbed to observe Labour MPs shamefully exploiting the debate about whether or not to bomb Syria as an opportunity to oust their leader, Jeremy Corbyn. MPs among all Westminster’s political parties have stated that they are not persuaded by Cameron to bomb Syria, particularly given the lessons of history. But these MPs are not being remorselessly vilified, as Corbyn is, by opportunistic Labour politicians, not to mention the relentless media, which, like war, feeds on perpetuating division.

Gerda Stevenson, Carlops, Penicuik

SNP candidate Coyle’s worrying agenda

That Sophia Coyle could be the SNP’s top regional list candidate in Central Scotland in next May’s Scottish Parliament election is worrying.

She pits against stem cell research, abortion, same-sex marriage, same-sex adoption, religion being given exemption from the equality act, against dying in dignity - and all because of her religious belief.

Putting this before the rights of others is unacceptable for any politician. Ms Coyle has already made her mind up how she intends to represent her constituents: it is through her church.

Spencer Fildes, Board member and former chair of the Scottish Secular Society

Calton Hill remains unchanged for reason

There has been a great deal of debate recently about the fate of the former Royal High School building.

Calton Hill and its surroundings have remained unaltered for many years because generations of Edinburgh citizens have appreciated the fact that the hill is a unique asset to the city. It’s an impressive green space in its heart.

The hill and its buildings have featured in many a painting, photograph and calendars. The old school especially has been of interest and because of this there are visual records of how the building looked in its heyday. These paintings show that when it was built it was clean, crisp and impressive and commanded its setting.

Yes, the building is a shadow of its former self, but with some TLC and subtle floodlighting it could again command its setting.

I doubt that tourists would make the effort to view the building if they knew it were just part of a complex. For it to become nothing more than a glorified hotel lobby would be a sad fate for such a fine building and its status as an architectural gem would be lost.

Jeremy Lewis, Durar Drive, Edinburgh

Setting the tram route record on right track

Can Douglas Thompson please tell me where the trams with a “handful of passengers” are because anytime I’m on them I can’t get a seat?

Also, in reply to Susan Smart, the tram was never intended to go along Junction Street. The route was down Constitution Street (Letters, November 27).

B King, St Leonard’s Street, Edinburgh

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