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Talks under way on new funds

City Deal cash may be used for tram extension

Andrew Kerr 3 (copyright Terry Murden)Edinburgh may use funds from the proposed £2 billion City Deal to extend the tram service.

Talks are continuing about how to use the money which will be provided mainly by the UK and Scottish governments.

Edinburgh City Council chief executive Andrew Kerr is said to be in “no doubt” that expanding the tram is an option.

The council remains keen to extend the single line system to Newhaven and Granton, west to Newbridge and south to Little France (location of the BioQuarter) and Queen ­Margaret University.

The plans form part of the next stage of the Strategic Development Plan for the Edinburgh region between 2018-2030.

Taking the tram to Newhaven and Granton was in the original plan but this was withdrawn when the scheme ran into budgeting problems. However, officials see it as a means of supporting the scale of development proposed in Leith and the wider area.

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Mr Kerr told a recent seminar that he expected the City Deal to be confirmed in the Autumn Statement, or in next year’s Budget. It aims to leverage up to £5 billion of private sector money.

At that event, held at the Bank of Scotland headquarters on The Mound, Mr Kerr made it clear that the focus would be on bridging income inequality and on how the city manages expectations of a growing economy and population.

Asked in an interview this weekend whether an extension of the tram system would form part of the City Deal, Mr Kerr said: “Yes, it’s possible. If we’re opening up the east of the city, Leith and the waterfront for development, which increases land value and has economic benefit all the way through, there’s no doubt the tram extension is part of that consideration.

“The extent to which it is and the extent to which it’s part of the City Deal is part of the negotiation.

“We’re just at the point where we see how best we can invest the £2billion. We’re negotiating on that. We’ve got to make best use of that £2bn. In the west that’s probably roads that open up that area for development. In the east it’s more ­likely to be light railway or tram, or some version of that.”

Photo: Andrew Kerr (by Terry Murden)

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