Council Refuses To Revive Tram Company

13 August 2015, 15:46 | Updated: 13 August 2015, 16:14

Calls for the failed Edinburgh trams company to be revived ahead of an inquiry into the project have been rejected by the city's council, which says the move would cost in excess of £4 million.

Inquiry chair Lord Hardie had asked the City of Edinburgh Council to reconstitute Transport Initiatives Edinburgh (Tie) Ltd so the firm can become a core participant in the probe into the over-budget scheme.

But council leader Andrew Burns said such a move would increase the bill for taxpayers to more than double the £2 million it has set aside to fund its involvement in the inquiry.

Tie Ltd was set up by the council in 2002 to deliver major transport projects, but it was closed down in 2011 amid heavy criticism of its handling of the trams.

The decision not to revive the firm - which has all-party support and is expected to be approved at a meeting next week - means that while the council will fund legal advice for former and current local authority employees and elected members who give statements to the inquiry, ex-Tie employees will have to pay for their own lawyers.

Mr Burns said: "The council continues to support the inquiry, as it has done so throughout, and to be fully open and accountable.

"By applying to be a core participant we have committed to playing our part in the proceedings and co-operating fully with the inquiry.

"However, we do not believe the considerable cost of reviving for the sake of the inquiry is a justifiable expense, one which would ultimately be borne by the Edinburgh taxpayer.

"The council is the ultimate parent body of Tie, and we have communicated our willingness to provide information about its role to the inquiry.''

The trams began operating on May 31 last year after six years of disruption and cost increases.

Former first minister Alex Salmond announced there would be an inquiry into the project in June 2014, and it has since been awarded statutory powers to compel witnesses to participate.

A preliminary hearing will be held on Wednesday.

A spokesman for the inquiry said there would be no comment on the council's decision ahead of the hearing.