Edinburgh council leaders under pressure over tram project inquiry
COUNCIL leaders in Edinburgh are under mounting pressure to lobby the Scottish Government for a public inquiry into the capital’s beleaguered tram project.
All parties will tomorrow be asked to back a call for talks with the Scottish Government to get the probe off the ground as soon as possible - however such a move may end up being voted down.
The Labour-SNP administration in charge of the capital has said it is content to leave a decision on when to instigate a hearing to the Scottish Government, which took control of the project last year.
However opposition councillors say Labour has watered down its position from before May’s election, from when it had been demanding Alex Salmond get it up and running as soon as possible.
Labour and the SNP formed a coalition to run the council last month, but both parties insist there was no deal done on when an inquiry should go ahead.
Transport leader Lesley Hinds said she understood that the government had ruled out holding an inquiry until the project was up and running in the summer of 2014.
However this has been denied by Transport Scotland and government officials, who insist no timetable has ever been mapped out.
Lib Dem councillor Robert Aldridge, who will be pressing for the council to ask Mr Salmond to progress the inquiry, said: “Labour certainly seem a lot less enthusiastic about having an inquiry now that they are in power.
“The people of Edinburgh deserve answers about this project as soon as possible and they will not be happy about having to wait for another two years.
“It will be letting them down badly if there is no progress on an inquiry before then. If necessary the council should be petitioning the council to get on with it and the vote tomorrow is the first step.”
Cllr Hinds said: “The two parties haven’t come to a position ahead of tomorrow’s meeting yet, but the fact is the council can say what it likes, but it is up to the Scottish Government to sort out what kind of inquiry it should be and when it should take place.”
A spokesman for Transport Scotland said: “Our position for some time has been that the priority should be making progress with completing the tram project in line with the agreed timetable and budget.”
A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: “Our immediate focus, and that of the council and the people of Edinburgh, is on completing the tram project as soon as possible. The Scottish Government has repeatedly made clear that we support a public inquiry once further progress has been made.”
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Sunday 19 May 2013
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