‘It’s a return to political dogmatism’

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TODAY we report some decidedly mixed news for those readers who still back the Capital’s trams project, despite its many difficulties.

On the plus side, the city council yesterday released more details of the programme of works that will take the current planned line from the airport to St Andrew Square.

We’ve had false promises before, but if this one is delivered the first paying passengers could be travelling by tram as early as July 2014.

But on the minus side, Scottish Government minister Alex Neil has given the News a blunt assessment of when trams might run further down the original “Line 1a”, to Leith and on to Newhaven.

“If there is any extension . . . it will be for another generation to decide,” he said yesterday, suggesting a wait of at least 20 years.

Of course, this is entirely consistent with the SNP’s promise that “not a penny more” of government money will be spent on the trams project – and some in Leith will be glad that he dismissed the prospect of further works on their streets anytime soon.

But it has to be said that Mr Neil’s remarks smack of the return of political dogmatism to an area which had recently been the subject of greater all-party pragmatism.

The current planned works we outline on pages 8 and 9 today are only possible because – after many months of legal woes and political wrangling – a way forward was found by city chief executive Sue Bruce, then by leading politicians who agreed to put their differences aside for the good of Edinburgh.

That notably included the local SNP group, so it is a shame that Mr Neil couldn’t enter into the collective spirit when he was asked about the prospects of a wider trams network.

But not as great a shame as the fact that he and his fellow ministers couldn’t relieve the burden on the city’s taxpayers by finding a bit more cash for the project from the £12.8 billion it has earmarked for infrastructure projects by 2015 . . .

Tot-ally fantastic

It’s the competition which sends Edinburgh ga-ga – and this year it’s starting early.

The hunt is already under way for the Evening News Top Tot 2012 with photoshoots about to begin. More than 60,000 votes were cast last year and next year looks set to be even more popular.

Oh yes . . . and there’s a stonking £1000 prize for the winner.

So while you’re out Christmas shopping with your wee one, why not take the opportunity to enter the contest and stand a chance to win a fantastic prize. See page 10 today for full details.