9am briefing: fresh blow for city's tram project

EDINBURGH'S embattled tram project was in fresh turmoil today as the council's new costings were immediately thrown into doubt – just seven days before a crunch vote on the future of the scheme.

A report due to go before councillors next week will set out a cost of 700 million to complete the line from the airport to Haymarket, up to 773m to build to St Andrew Square, and up to 740m to scrap the scheme altogether.

However, questions are already being asked about how the figures were arrived at, with suggestions that the price to Haymarket was far more than that quoted by contractors.

High speed police pursuit causes alarm

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POLICE were involved in a chase through Niddrie last night in pursuit of a van which failed to obey instructions to stop.

Residents said they were shocked to see up to eight police vehicles trailing a light-coloured van through normally quiet streets at speeds of up to 90 miles an hour, it has been claimed.

One mother said they were frantically pulling children off the street to get them out of harms way as the chase careened through Niddrie House Park.

A police spokesman said: "A van in the area had been signaled to stop at around 6.30pm but made off which resulted in a pursuit. The van was later found abandoned and the occupants had made off. Enquiries are ongoing to try to trace whoever was responsible."

EIF to advertise for new director

EDINBURGH'S international film festival is to advertise for a new artistic director despite pleas from the current officeholder for more time in the role.

James Mullighan has said he wants more time in charge of the EIFF but it is expected the post of artistic director will be advertised in early July, it was reported today.

Mr Mullighan is likely to reapply for the job, which has "always been the plan", he said yesterday.

The director, who had just four months to compile this years's festival programme and concludes this Sunday, said he would like the chance to have a full year to prepare for another festival.

Committee chair refuses to back down over Nazi jibe

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THE chairman of the Commons' Scottish affairs committee has refused to apologise for describing the SNP as "neo-fascist".

Glasgow Labour MP Ian Davidson made the comment as he was heckled by Nationalists during a Westminster debate on the Scotland Bill.

The SNP demanded an apology and said he should resign as committee chairman.

But Mr Davidson said the SNP was trying to deflect attention from its "bully-boy tactics" He said he could have used the term "thuggish" instead of neo-fascist.

Service for brother and sister

A SERVICE celebrating the lives of a Midlothian brother and sister killed in a plane crash in Florida will take place today.

Carly Beattie, 21, was flying in a Cessna 152 with her brother Daniel, 24, when it crashed on June 9 in a wooded area near Blue Cypress Lake.

Ms Beattie was in America as part of her degree course at a British university and her parents were visiting when the deaths happened.

The family are from Penicuik and the service will be held at Mortonhall Crematorium.