There are actually so many puns connected with trams that even the rabbi opening the council proceedings before the council meeting on Thursday could not resist a wee pun or two of his own.

The position is that the Chief Executive has now been sent back to renegotiate with the contractors for a much shorter line from the airport to Haymarket. The administration motion to borrow £231m to finish the project to St Andrew Square was defeated after their coalition partners abstained from the final vote, and it is now planned to stop the tram line at Haymarket.


The Labour Party have much to say since it was their motion and the Tories supported them. We spoke with Labour Group Leader Councillor Andrew Burns about the way forward:-

Interview with Councillor Andrew Burns (mp3)



The Labour Party have also issued its own statement today.



Following the decision on the Edinburgh trams project yesterday to reject a £230million borrowing requirement that would have affected city services for 30 years Labour Leader, Cllr Andrew Burns said today:


“The requirement to borrow £230million for completion of just over one mile of track to St Andrew Square, some £36,000 per foot was, and remains, totally unacceptable to the Labour Group.

 “We believe that the Haymarket option can be delivered within current budgets and expect the Chief Executive and Council officers to vigorously pursue this option with the contractor.

 “Following delivery of the project to Haymarket, and full integration with Lothian Buses, a rational decision on the future can be taken.  That is the best course of action for the Council’s finances, Council services and Lothian Buses.  The Lib Dem plan to rush into massive debt would be complete folly, and would affect Council services for decades to come.”


Labour Group Transport Spokesperson Lesley Hinds added:


“Payments plus interest for the St Andrew Square option would have seen the Council paying some £15.3m per year over the next 30 years.  Funding that we believe should be invested in our schools, social care and other Council services.  Lothian Buses also highlighted a significant threat to their operations should St Andrew’s Square option have gone ahead.


“Labour Councillors have also been increasingly concerned at the tone of briefings from Council officers who could not provide certainty that the £230m borrowing would be sufficient.  Given the history of the project and the relations with the main contractor we believe that the ‘significant risks’ attached to St Andrew’s square could lead to significant further borrowing.  Senior officers have privately outlined their personal concerns to me on this.


“Given the deep concerns of Group members, officers and the general public we believe that Haymarket was the least risky option.


“The current divided Administration have consistently shown that they are unable to take the project or our city forward. They have no authority on this matter and should consider their positions.”


  1. A massive #labourfail from @AndrewDBurns.

    Haymarket option means £700m for a line losing £4m a year. £700m for a tram which doesn’t even reach the city centre. Why would anyone use this? I won’t.

    But this is only a fraction of the problem. There was a vote for Haymarket, but there is no deal in place for Haymarket. Unless one can be put together in 5 days – which is virtually impossible – Council will be in default (thanks to Labour’s contract, negotiated by none other than @AndrewDBurns) and will have to find £161m from THIS YEAR’s budget. That’s a 10% cut in services across the board, tens of thousands of redundancies, or an 80% council tax rise. That’s EIGHTY per cent.

    And quite understandably, the Scottish Government is now reserving its position on clawing back some or all of its £500m pledged. After all, why pay the full amount for only a QUARTER of a tram line? So the shortfall will have to be met by Council borrowing, making the Haymarket option absolutely MORE COSTLY than St Andrew Square. £230m as an investment is one thing, £700m for absolutely nothing (which the Haymarket option will doubtless very shortly become) is a scandal.

    All this, of course, ignoring the fact that by the time St Andrew Square borrowing would have been repaid, Haymarket will have become the MORE EXPENSIVE option because of its £4m annual loss. And it will be a consistent and persistent drag on public money.

    The business case for completing the line to Leith & Newhaven was dependent on revenue from a profitable line to St Andrew Square. Instead we will have a loss-making line which stops further away. All that disruption, roadworks, businesses suffering, all for nothing and no realistic prospect of the trams ever getting that far. Is Cllr Burns and his Labour colleagues really happy with this? Is Cllr Balfour and the rest of the Tories?

    I can scarcely believe the incompetence and bare-faced cheek of Labour and the Tories on this. A blind fool could see that Haymarket is the worst possible outcome, but apparently that level of sophistication is more than we can reasonably expect from Burns, Balfour and their Labour and Tory cronies. All of them deserve to be run out of office, if not prosecuted.

  2. This was the right decision as far as I’m concerned.

    Going to St. Andrew Square was going to cost the Council (that’s us as taxpayers by the way!) over £15million every year for 30years. That’s £15million that would not have been spent on other Council services – schools, social work, parks, libraries and so on.

    For nearly 5 years now, this Lib-Dem/SNP Council have singularly failed to sort out the project. And don’t forget that they ALL signed the contracts on 1st May 2008, a full year after the last local elections!

    They now need to be mature enough to deliver on the democratic decision of the Council. It might not be what they wanted, but sometimes that happens in life. Mouthing off, but not really doing anything (which is a good summary of the last 5 years) will get this project nowhere.

    And if the current Leaders can’t deliver on the decision then they should resign immediately.

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