Edinburgh’s council owned TIE (the tram developers) have finally admitted publicly that they believe there is a problem. Something I think most Edinburgh residents have been aware of for the last few weeks. You would have thought that zero activity on Princes Street would have been a good indicator, that even TIE could have picked up, that things were not all rosy in the garden. Mike Connolly of TIE is quoted in the Scotsman today as saying” we are not in a very good place at the moment because of the contract dispute with the consortium” oh yes really! The citizens of Edinburgh will be very glad to finally have some communication from TIE albeit weeks after we already knew that there was a wee bitty of a problem.
As it becomes more and more likely that this dispute will go to arbitration, which will no doubt lead to even more delays we still have no information on exactly what the dispute is about. Is it about a few thousand pounds and a couple of days or is it about £80 million and months of delay, both have been suggested as reasons for this secretive dispute about spending public money. It would be nice to know just exactly how much cash is involved and how many months of hold-ups we are looking at, perhaps then both the Scottish taxpayer and the Edinburgh rate payers would have an opportunity to gauge just how serious this particular Princes Street hurdle is.
Maybe it is time to start a public debate about putting a stop to the trams, if only to exert some leverage on the the Bilfinger Berger Consortium. At the moment they seem to hold all the cards, and we as the financial backers of the scheme and most especially the secretive TIE seem unable to pressure the consortium in any meaningful way.
Mr Mike Connolly also added that there was a “huge success story to be told” of the positive impact trams would have. I would suggest Mr Connolly holds off on telling his huge success story until we at least see a tram actually running on rails on one of our streets (the mock up at Jenner’s doesn’t count MR Connolly). I would imagine that street will be Princes Street as it’s becoming more and more unlikely in my opinion that we will ever see the new trams on Leith walk.