Edinburgh Council declines to re-establish arm’s-length trams company for inquiry

St-Andrew-Square_TramThe City of Edinburgh Council has refused to re-establish an arms-length company to provide evidence for the Tram Inquiry.

The council, which has earmarked £2 million for its participation in the inquiry, said re-establishing Transport Initiatives Edinburgh (TIE), as requested by Lord Hardie, would not be a “justifiable expense”.

According to the local authority, such a move would involve appointing new officials as well as providing them with legal representation, which it does not believe to be in the public interest.

However, the council has promised to provide information about TIE’s role in the development of Edinburgh’s embattled tram scheme.

The inquiry is due to begin at a preliminary hearing in Waverley Gate on Wednesday 19 August 2015.

The inquiry’s remit is to establish why the Edinburgh Trams project incurred delays, cost more than originally budgeted and, through reductions in scope, delivered significantly less than projected.

Council leader Andrew 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 council will make independent legal advice available to current and former council employees and elected members, should they wish it, when giving their written statements to the Inquiry.

Former TIE employees will be able to give evidence about the role of tie to the Inquiry, if they are called on by the Inquiry to do so. However, the council will not be funding legal advice to these individuals, although they will of course be free to appoint their own lawyers.

The council’s participation in the Edinburgh Tram Inquiry will be detailed in a report on Thursday, 20th August.

Meanwhile, Edinburgh Trams lost almost £450,000 in 2014 - less than expected due to higher than predicted passenger numbers.

Three million people used the trams, following the launch of the service at the end of May 2014.

Bosses estimate it will take three years for the trams to make a profit.

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