Edinburgh trams fares leak leaves SNP finance convener not best pleased – Steve Cardownie

Backlash against proposal to scrap free tram fares for over-60s suggests Edinburgh council wil drop the idea, writes Steve Cardownie.

Wednesday, 27th November 2019, 6:00 am
Cllr Alasdair Rankine, finance convener, is not happy about the latest leak of internal budget proposals. Picture: Neil Hanna

When I last spoke to Alasdair Rankine, the city council’s SNP finance convener, it is fair to say that he was not best pleased. The reason? Yet again the council’s budget process had been compromised by someone leaking details of internal papers to the press and the administration was put on the back foot as a consequence.

Every year council officials are instructed to compile a list of potential savings for the administration to consider when setting its budget for the forthcoming financial year.

Having considered all of the options tabled, including some of their own, the administration then submits its budget for approval at a full council meeting in February.

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Plan to scrap free fares for over-60s on Edinburgh trams condemned as 'completel...

This year the officials have flagged up the possibility of the council withdrawing its subsidy to Edinburgh Trams which allows people with a Scottish National Entitlement Card (free travel pass) to travel by tram free of charge. As this subsidy is being paid by Edinburgh Council it is only their cards which allow this, so if you are from Musselburgh for instance, you have to cough up.

This option is only one of a raft of potential savings that the council has been invited to consider. No decision has been taken nor will be until next year, so statements that the council is planning to block free travel on the trams are wide of the mark.

The council’s administration has tough decisions to make and will have to find the savings somewhere but I would be surprised if, given the potential public backlash and the consequent political ramifications, they chose to go down this route (forgive the pun, I couldn’t help it!).