Intervention call

Ministers urged to intervene in trams inquiry

Princes Street, trams and big wheel
The tram inquiry has been ongoing for nearly eight years (pic: Terry Murden)

Edinburgh city council’s new leader wants the Scottish Government to intervene to speed up of the long-running inquiry into the building of the city’s tram line.

Former First Minister Alex Salmond announced the judge-led public hearing in June 2014, promising it would be “swift and thorough”.

It began in 2017, led by former Lord Advocate Lord Hardie, and so far has cost more than £12 million, with no indication as to when it will report.

The inquiry aims to establish why the tram project incurred delays, cost more than originally budgeted and delivered a smaller operation than intended. It was budgeted to cost £375 million and open in 2011 but a shorter route opened three years late at twice the cost. An extension is now being built which is said to be on time and on budget.

Cammy Day, who now heads the Labour-led council, is calling for the Scottish Government to intervene and accelerate the inquiry process.

“The slow progress of this inquiry is just hugely frustrating for everybody that’s involved,” he said. “It has cost the council and I’m sure a whole number of other bodies an awful lot of money, including the government spending millions of pounds.”

Councillor Day said the council is using public money to keep its legal team on standby, reports The Times.

He added: “I appreciate it’s an independent inquiry but there needs to be some timelines put on that, or else it’s a never-ending process and a never-ending cost to the public purse.”

Cammy Day: time for action

“I’m sure the public want to see an end to this as much as we do. I think it’s time for some action.”

A spokesman for the inquiry said Lord Hardie’s remit is to conduct a robust inquiry and he has made it clear it will take as long as is necessary to get the answers the public wants in relation to the issues surrounding the Edinburgh trams project.

“The inquiry’s evidential database contains over three million documents that have to be carefully considered, which is an extensive but vital task.”

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