Edinburgh Trams - City Council want to increase their committment ten fold!

Submitted by actionman on Fri, 22 Jul '11 11.01pm

So far Edinburgh City Council has only put up some £27 million for the ill-fated trams project as all the rest of the money raised thus far - £500 million - is coming from the Scottish Government, that we have all contributed as tax payers.

But let us focus on the commitment that the LibDem minority in the City Council wants to impose on all the Council Tax payers in Edinburgh.

They tell us that to get the tram to St Andrew Square will cost (they think) £770 million, bringing Edinburgh's contribution to £270 million - ten times the current level of exposure!   This is the money they will have to raise themselves and for which we, as citizens of Edinburgh, will be saddled with for the next thirty years or so.

Is it really sensible to expose the City to such a huge borrowing commitment when we are in the middle of the worst financial crisis since the 1930s?

But what is worse is that there is no commitment from the contractor that this is a fixed price!   As soon as problems appear, as they certainly will, the amount to be borrowed will rise very steeply and then where will we be?

If we look at the possible rates of repayment of the interest on this loan we are looking at a sum of some £12 million a year - depending on the terms that the City Council can secure and even finding a lender in these straightened times will not be easy if they use one that does not demand enormously inflated interest rates.

So Lothian Buses will have to make up the difference and as the profit levels run in the order of at the most £8 or £9 million the shortfall will have to come from cuts in expenditure.   Possibly Lothian Buses will have to be sold to raise money to help establish the trams - who knows?   Schools, leisure facilities, libraries, care for the elderly and facilities for children will all be potentially at risk.   Can we as Council Tax payers be happy about all this?

Where is any sense of financial prudence? Is there a canny Scottish accountant anywhere in the City Chambers? I think not.

Objectors are not anti-tram, just this system which is actually a light railway.   If you sold off the excessively large light rail vehicles, which the Council ordered before they thought the scheme through, and bought trams of the type that we all remember, then traffic could share the roads with the trams and many more people  would be happy.

Why not mothball the project forthwith at Haymarket and make a reassessment?   This would also allow time to deal with the pollution bombshell which could save the Council millions if claims are made in the future.