City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Call for Stricter Audit Control of Public Funds for the Edinburgh Tram Project

By actionman - Posted on 11 August 2010

Readers of this blog should see this Open Letter, dated 11th August 2010, below:

The Rt Hon Alex Salmond, MSP
First Minister
The Scottish Parliament
Edinburgh EH99 1SP

Dear First Minister,


The citizens of Edinburgh – indeed the citizens of Scotland – are appalled by the way that Edinburgh City Council and TIE, its wholly owned subsidiary, are wasting public money on the delivery of the Edinburgh trams project.

I am writing this “Open Letter” to you in the hope that the Scottish Government will take immediate action to exercise some badly needed control of the public money which is being wasted on this project. We have made our concerns known to Councillor Jenny Dawe and the City Council through individual letters to Councillors, articles in the press and interviews on television, but our protestations are simply ignored.

The sum of £500 million was agreed by the Scottish Parliament as a contribution to the project and your Government stated that “not be a penny more” would be granted when the project was allowed to proceed. Edinburgh City Council were to raise a figure of some £45 million, of which, we understand a charitable estimate would suggest they have actually secured about £12 million.

Our concern is that of the £500 million granted by the Parliament a very large proportion has already been spent, or committed, while the actual project for which this money was approved, has been dramatically reduced in size.

It appears highly unlikely that the tram tracks will be laid further than Haymarket, or York Place, at best, so those living on Leith Walk will have lost even the uncertain promise of future benefits for all the pain, disruption and commercial hardship they have suffered.

But even the expenditure to date appears to be running totally out of control and simply miles ahead of budget.

Where is the scrutiny of the expenditure of public funds that should be ongoing in this type of project? Surely the Auditor General for Scotland and Audit Scotland should be taking a very close interest in the way the nation's money is being spent? Surely Audit Scotland should only be releasing tranches of public money when real progress can be verified by work completed on the ground? If only half the project is to be finished then surely only half the Government money should be released?

Overpaid executives should not be paying themselves huge bonus sums when the project is seen by everyone in the whole of Britain as an unmitigated disaster area. Not only have the executives and the City Council been shown to be incompetent, but they have attracted international criticism and made our proud capital a laughing stock on the world stage.

What is even more alarming is to hear that Edinburgh Council are seeking ways of raising an additional £50 million to carry on with this work which they describe as “prudent borrowing”.

No private business would be able to secure a similar loan under present economic conditions, so for the Council to think they are immune from national economic pressures is naïve and they clearly expect the citizens of Edinburgh and the Scottish Government to pick up the tab and guarantee this advance. This foolishness must be halted.

I would plead with you, on behalf of the concerned residents of Edinburgh, to grasp this problem and immediately impose very strict audit controls on both Edinburgh City Council and TIE, so that the haemorrhaging of public money can be halted forthwith.

We need someone with a really firm hand to grasp this problem and exert strict control. I know that the citizens of Scotland expect their Government to accept this challenging responsibility, especially after drawing attention to deficits in the conception and planning of the tram project in the party's manifesto.

Yours sincerely,

Allan Alstead

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Excellent letter.

At Scotland Quo Vadis (SQV) we have published a Statement of support based on this letter - illiustrated with photos - to publicise the issue to our members.

You are invited to visit this pro-Scotland forum.

It is a free site started by journalist Maxwell Macleod, journalist son of the late Revd George Maclead - founder of the Iona Community.

You don't have to register. If you do, you qualify to make comments.

All we ask for is a (non-naff) name and a genuine e-mail address. We never disclose these to third parties and you will get no advertising or junk mail.

Best regards,

Michael Hamilton