A LAWYER seconded to the tram project has revealed how a hole was dug and then filled in purely for a photocall with a Government minister - despite delays meaning construction had not yet started.
Trudi Craggs also told the inquiry today that she repeatedly urged a pause in awarding the main contract in order to ensure the designs were ready, but each time the call was dismissed.
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Recalling the photocall incident, she said: “Just before the elections in 2007 there was talk about the minister digging a hole to move some utilities to show the project had reached the point where we were in the construction phase.
“The minister wanted a picture of him with a shovel digging a hole. At that point, because of delay in design, we were not in a position to go from the pre-construction phase in MUDFA (utility diversion) to the construction phase.
“I was asked for my opinion and I told them to take a picture of the minister with a shovel but to not dig a hole.”
However, a hole was dug, she said, outside the Stanley Casino at the end of Constitution Street in Leith - “and quickly filled in again”.
“I think that caused the construction phase In the contract to be triggered for what seemed like purely political reasons rather than sound project ones.”
Ms Craggs, who was seconded to council-owned tram firm TIE from lawyers Dundas and Wilson for just over a year, said she had suggested a pause on four separate occasions.
“I felt the project should be pause to allow the design to catch up to start the procurement stage on a proper footing.”
She said she had first recommended a one-month pause in May 2006 and later that year had proposed a three-month pause.
She said she thought the then project director Andie Harper might have had some sympathy, but there was “a clear kickback” from others and the suggestion was rejected.