Trams: Hell on wheels has a new man in driving seat

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A GLASGOW shipyard trouble shooter has been chosen to lead Edinburgh's crisis-hit tram developers, The Scotsman has learned.

Vic Emery, who helped turn around the fortunes of the Clyde warship yards, has been selected as chairman of Tie, the former Transport Initiatives Edinburgh.

Tie's bitter dispute with its tramline builders has brought construction to a near standstill.

Mr Emery, who is due to continue as convener of the Scottish Police Services Authority until the end of the year, replaces David Mackay, who abruptly quit in November, describing the Princes Street section of the tram project as "hell on wheels". Both men are 67.

The recommended appointment comes as Tie prepares for crucial mediation talks in an attempt to solve its two-year-old dispute with contractors led by German firm Bilfinger Berger. Just 27 per cent of work on the 11.5-mile Edinburgh airport to Newhaven line has been completed as a result, with the route east of the city centre likely to be postponed indefinitely.

Mr Emery has also been recommended as chairman of Transport Edinburgh, the umbrella organisation for the city's council-run trams and Lothian Buses. The part-time posts, which involve several days work a month, have a combined salary of up to 55,000.

The council will be asked to approve the appointments, recommended by its recruitment committee, next Thursday,

Mr Emery has worked in shipyards across the world, including salvaging troubled contracts in Canada and Cumbria.

He was with BAe Systems' naval warship division for 11 years until taking early retirement as managing director in 2008. He was credited with transforming the fortunes of the Govan and Scotstoun yards on the Clyde.

Mr Emery said of his BAe job in 2008: "If I don't work here I will work somewhere else. I have no intention of stopping."

Council leader Jenny Dawe said: "Out of a very strong field, Vic was our unanimous choice.

"He has everything we need for the job - outstanding interpersonal, communication, negotiation and project management skills. He will provide excellent support for the chief executive of Tie (Richard Jeffrey], and I look forward to working with him as we enter a difficult period.

"We remain absolutely committed to delivering on our vision for a clean, green and efficient transport system for Edinburgh and I'm delighted at the prospect of Vic being part of the team that helps to achieve that."

Mr Emery said: "I have always taken a great deal of personal satisfaction from managing major projects.A position as significant as this, with such a high-profile initiative, will require all the experience I have gained in the public and private sectors over many years. It's an opportunity I very much relish."

Mr Jeffrey, who is also chief executive of Transport Edinburgh, said: "We will be delighted to welcome Vic to the boards of both organisations. His wealth of experience from other boards will be a valuable addition as we move the project forward."

Justice secretary Kenny Mac-Askill, announcing Mr Emery's police authority appointment in 2008, praised his "extensive experience of leadership in the private sector and his significant management experience in a major multinational company".

Former Stagecoach executive director Brian Cox has stood in as interim Tie and Transport Edinburgh chairman since Mr Mackay's departure.


Name: Vic Emery

Age: 67

Current posts: convener, Scottish Police Services Authority; chairman, New Campus Glasgow Project (colleges merger)

Other roles: Scottish Enterprise board member, Scottish Maritime Museum trustee

Born: Portchester, Hampshire

Education: Bachelor of Science (Honours) in mechanical engineering, Portsmouth University

Past jobs: BAe Systems naval warship division 1997-2008, including managing director Govan and Scotstoun shipyards from 2003

Career has also included: Singapore - naval patrol boats contract; Canada - warship contract

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