Battle lines are drawn between the parties as crucial vote looms

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FRESH calls have been made to terminate the tram project at Haymarket amid continuing fears about the cost of continuing to St Andrew Square.

The Labour group – the main opposition in the City Chambers – was today preparing to launch a late bid to stop the council burdening the city with 30 years of £15 million-a-year debt repayments and forcing Lothian Buses to pay an annual £2.7m charge for “leasing” the trams. Similar concerns are set to be raised by other opposition groups – with the Tories calling for any decision to be postponed until further certainty is provided about the final cost of agreeing to press ahead with the project and the issue of concessionary travel.

The Liberal Democrat/SNP coalition running the city remains split on the issue, with the Lib Dems wanting to press ahead to St Andrew Square – and insisting that failure to make a decision by the end of this month could result in the construction consortium headed by Bilfinger Berger taking the council to court.

Councillor Lesley Hinds, leader of the Labour group on the city council, said: “We want to go to Haymarket because that is the least risk, given the financial implications. Our group feel the risk of going to St Andrew Square is massive, in terms of the 30-year revenue budget consequences.”

The SNP group is set to oppose both the options of building to St Andrew Square and Haymarket – and call for a full public inquiry into what has gone wrong with the project.