Readers' letters: Donald Anderson should have known of tram costings

The then Edinburgh Council leader Donald Anderson at City Chambers in 2003The then Edinburgh Council leader Donald Anderson at City Chambers in 2003
The then Edinburgh Council leader Donald Anderson at City Chambers in 2003
Donald Anderson asks in relation to the tram project: “Did officers fully and honestly inform elected members of the facts and did elected members properly exercise their role to scrut-inise the information avail-able to them?” (News, 21 December).

In December 2003, concerns were raised by objectors with every City of Edinburgh councillor, that they were being asked by officials to approve two tramlines at a cost of £478m for 28km, when the council’s own background papers disclosed an additional unsourced funding requirement of £97m.

The Edinburgh Tram Inquiry reminded Donald Anderson (council leader at the time) of these and he replied: “It did not cause any undue concern or under-mine our faith in the reliability of the information we were given at that stage, because these were estimates.”

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In the end, a tramline of 14km was delivered for upwards of £776m (over five times per km the December 2003 stated cost), putting a massive strain on council finances and Lothian Buses for decades thereafter.

So, Donald should already know the answers to his questions is “no”.

In my opinion, the problem was not only the unreliable information council officials presented or councillors’ inability to scrutinise it. Rather councillors chose to see only what they wanted to see and continued to downplay the risks inherent in the project and what it could cost.

There apparently exists a personality disorder, called “political hubris” where political leaders exhibit “impetuosity, a refusal to listen to or take advice and a particular form of incompetence when impulsivity, recklessness and frequent inattention to detail predominate.”

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I sincerely hope Lord Hardie is aware of this condition and that, if appropriate, he makes recommendations to protect the taxpayer from such political personality disorders in the future.

Alison Bourne, Somerset

The council must fit extractor fans in flats

I feel sorry for tenants who find mould in their flats, even on mattresses (News, 21 December). Responsibility lies with the council who had the flats built but with inadequate insulation and/or heating and with no extractor fans to expel excess water vapour.

I am surprised to read that the council will conduct a survey to 'identify the root cause of the dampness'. The cause of such dampness is well known and it doesn't need to survey to identify it.

The council should immediately fit extractor fans to all flats and explain to tenants how to use them.

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This will be expensive but what's the alternative? Already a child has died in England from such damp.

Steuart Campbell, Edinburgh

Mystery of variable energy supply costs

A recent memo from my energy supplier says that the price of my off-peak electricity heating units will increase from 25.8p to 29.3p.

The UK Government says that energy prices are soaring due to “the soaring global wholesale price of gas.” How do they explain, then, that the Isle of Man electricity authority, which generates most of its output from gas, is selling off-peak heating units for 9.6p? The Isle of Man also doesn't have the UK's economies of scale.

Geoff Moore, Alness, Highland

Missing a trick

On the Gender Recognition Bill, the Labour party, which seems broadly in favour, is missing a trick in reconnecting with its traditional working class base, which is broadly socially conservative. It is not being well received.

William Ballantine, Bo’ness

Write to the Edinburgh Evening News

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