Tories slam ‘absurd’ tram advert amid business losses

Gavin Brown next to the promotional tram project sign
Gavin Brown next to the promotional tram project sign
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POLITICIANS have demanded an advert bearing the slogan “Edinburgh Trams – Worth waiting for” is withdrawn following claims it insults business owners who have had to close amid citywide disruption.

The large ad hoarding, mounted at Edinburgh Airport, has come under fire from furious Conservative MSPs, who said it was an “absurd” catchline for a project mired by mismanagement and spiralling costs, and which has led to several businesses folding.

The beleaguered Edinburgh Tram project has lurched from crisis to crisis since it was first mooted in 2003. Originally costed at £375 million for a tram route from Edinburgh Airport to Newhaven, the budget has now soared to £770 million for a service which will terminate at St Andrew Square.

It will also be completed three-and-a-half years later than billed and has led to several firms going out of business.

Lothians Tory MSP Gavin Brown said the sign was an “insult to the people of Edinburgh”. He said: “This is one of the dumbest slogans and signs I have ever seen. I suppose the council ought to tell us how much time and money was spent producing the thing, and give us an undertaking to have such an absurd advert removed immediately.

“I would ask if they have this branding anywhere else because it’s just an insult to the people of Edinburgh. The fact time and money have been spent on putting it up there is a double insult.”

Mr Brown said he had to do a “double take” when he first noticed the slogan.

“I was waiting for the bus to take me to the car park at the airport and when we left the bus depot I saw it and thought that it had to be a joke.

“I think mistakes have been made at just about every point with the tram project, starting with the initial contracts that were drawn up.

“Now the focus has to be on getting the job completed so we have something for all the money spent on it. So far, though, taxpayers have had a shocking value for money.”

He added: “I suppose there have been far bigger and more costly blunders with the trams but the catalogue of errors continues to build upon itself.

“My take on this is that the advert is an insult generally but particularly insensitive to the many businesses across Edinburgh who lost business and had to shut down as a consequence of the tram works.”

Councillor Lesley Hinds, Transport Convener, defended the promotion, insisting it raises awareness about the ongoing construction programme.

She said: “This sign has been displayed at Edinburgh Airport for some time, near the Airport Tram Stop that is under construction. It serves to raise awareness among airport 
passengers of the current construction programme and the benefits which will come when trams start running in the summer of 2014. I also hope it will emphasise that there will be a tram stop at the airport.”

Break-in sparks security fears

The manager of a York Place bar broken into days after the tram works restarted has expressed her concerns over security.

The area has become almost deserted late at night after being closed to cars, taxis and HGV vehicles. And now security signs warning that the area is being monitored 24 hours a day have gone up.

Shona Eadie, who responded to an alarm at corner bar Bodos in the early hours of the morning, arrived to discover two men still on the premises.

She said: “Luckily before I opened the door I heard a noise from inside. The police had been notified so thankfully I just had to wait outside for a couple of minutes before they arrived.”