Leader: Trams or no trams, that is the question

EDINBURGH city council faces a momentous vote today on whether to abandon its ill-fated tram project or press on to complete a £770 million link running from the airport to St Andrew Square in the city centre.

Such has been the disruption caused by this project, the history of disputes and stoppages and, most vexing of all, the huge cost over-runs, that were the matter to be decided by a vote of council taxpayers, the option of ceasing all further work would probably be chosen by a large majority. That would be a fair measure of the extent to which the public has lost confidence in the project, the latest estimates put forward and the inept manner in which it has been managed by the council. Poor transparency, failure to submit the numbers presented to robust scrutiny and, above all, lack of leadership have all contributed.

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Now we are left with a sequence of voting on various options today by which the political parties, through procedural positioning, can avoid being seen to carry the can for closure. The long-sighted decision - if not the most popular one - would be to see through the completion of the line to St Andrew Square. Costly though this option may appear, at least there is the prospect of a service resulting from all the money spent.

The choice is between abandonment - which would be a vote for abject defeat - and salvaging something from the debacle. We back the salvage option and against 750m going to waste. Retribution can be saved for later.