Letters: Money just flushed down a cracked drain in tram fiasco

THE intervention in the tram project by John Swinney is in danger of exacerbating an already tragic situation.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 1st September 2011, 4:45 pm

The SNP Government, on his watch, has spent most of the £500 million grant awarded for the tram project for very little progress to date.

Yet grant funding was supposed to be conditional on performance. So much money spent for so little is money down a cracked drain and the wrong decision tomorrow will not repair the plumbing.

The intervention of the Scottish Government is in danger of turning a disastrous project into a fiasco. The Haymarket option is uneconomic and the St Andrew Square option will cost an undisclosed fortune and is of marginal economic utility. Yet our elected officials are being asked to make vital decisions in a vacuum, without any reliable information.

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Mr Swinney’s threats are likely to saddle Edinburgh with vast additional debts as the insistence on the St Andrew Square option will in all probability see further major cost escalation beyond £1 billion.

If Mr Swinney wishes to intervene in this way then the Scottish Government should underwrite the whole project

The best policy would be to cancel the current contracts for a fixed sum while they still can.

Mothball the project and take stock to ensure that reasoned decisions could be made at a later date. It would then be possible to retender when financial viability can be proven.

While cancellation is politically embarrassing, it has to be better than recklessly signing up to an open-ended financial commitment just to save face.

Carol Nimmo, Royal Terrace, Edinburgh

Modern transport will help Capital

EDINBURGH needs a modern transport system. As several cities in the UK have found, investing in infrastructure projects brings many rewards.

How many people were against the building of the Channel Tunnel and the High Speed line which connects Europe to the UK? The benefits are extensive, and not just in monetary terms. The Edinburgh tram is vital to Scotland’s reputation for innovation.

The Manchester Metro-link took almost eight years to complete, but is now being extended because of the benefits it has brought. The Scottish Government should see this project as investment in Scotland’s future, rather than treating it like as ‘this is Edinburgh’s problem’.

Colin Counter, Bryans Road, Newtongrange, Midlothian Spending has got out of control

I AGREE with Stuart Bell (Interactive, August 29) that a train link to Edinburgh Park would have been a simpler and cheaper option than this tram fiasco.

I cannot ever see this method of transport giving Edinburgh any return for the colossal amount of money spent.

While the public are being told that costs of food, clothing, services and transport are all necessarily increasing, our councillors are spending money as though it grew on trees.

Christine Burton, Clermiston Drive, Edinburgh Public should have had a vote

WHY were we not given the opportunity of a referendum on the tram project as we were with congestion charging?

If we are looking at this from an environmental angle, surely we could just as easily have revived the suburban rail network programme.

Why did a city of our size ever need trams?

Jim Godfrey, Kaimes Court, Edinburgh

Where were the missing clowns?

WELL done for displaying the faces of the clowns that run our council (News, August 26).

You did, however, forget to add a few more clowns from the previous Labour administration that endorsed the fiasco in the first instance!

Douglas Thomson, Moray Place, Edinburgh