Tram developers failed to oversee key work, inquiry told

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Tram developers Tie failed to properly manage key contracts, one of its lawyers has told the Edinburgh tram inquiry.

Sharon Fitzgerald, a partner at law firm DLA Piper, said she had been “perplexed” at the city council firm not retaining its specialist consultants to ensure they were completed.

The inquiry into Edinburgh's long-delayed tram project continues. Picture: Ian Georgeson

The inquiry into Edinburgh's long-delayed tram project continues. Picture: Ian Georgeson

Delays with a utilities diversion contract to move pipes and cables from the tram line, and the late completion of the route design, have been blamed as contributing to the project’s shambles.

The £776 million scheme was finished three years late in 2014 and hundreds of millions of pounds over budget.

Dr Fitzgerald said: “There were certainly elements of certain projects that were not being managed.”

She said Tie had appointed firms to assist with the contracts, such as the design of the tram line and utilities diversions.

However, she said: “What perplexed me was that, after going to the length of employing various technical advisers, they were not employed consistently through the process to support Tie.

“A number of different consultants were brought in...but there was no consistency of personnel managing the contracts.”

Dr Fitzgerald said, for the utilities contract, the team involved “all pretty much left not long after the contract was signed”.

She said that meant “there was no one who understood how the contract should operate actually being there”.

The lawyer said that in one case “there was one person trying to manage the contract with very little support”.

Later, former Transport Edinburgh chief executive Neil Renilson told the inquiry he had been told the then Scottish Executive – now Government – had no faith in Edinburgh City Council developing another major transport project itself after the collapse of a planned rapid bus scheme.

In written evidence, he said: “To my mind, the primary reason for the problems the tram project experienced are not to be found in a forensic examination of the contracts. They are in the people.

“Good people can deliver even with faulty contracts.Incompetent people can louse up a project with perfect contract documentation.

“Incompetent people with faulty documentation is a virtual guarantee of failure and so it was with the trams.”