Letter: Are we misled?

Your article, "MSP hits out at tram company's £13m pay costs" (27 November), and a recent outburst by Alex Salmond in parliament on single variable rate (SVR) highlight concerns that here too the SNP is misleading parliament on issues associated with the funding of the tram project.

Mr Salmond said in justification for his government's stance on the issue of SVR: "If he (Iain Gray] went outside onto the streets of Edinburgh - this time not to demonstrate outside the parliament with a no pay freeze banner, but to ask, 'Should we pay many millions of pounds to the Inland Revenue for a variable rate that we're not going to implement?' - even fewer people would support that than support the Edinburgh tram project."

Compare this with John Swinney's stance on the agreement between Transport Scotland (TS) and the City of Edinburgh Council (CEC) on the trams, where there are agreed milestone payments and conditions attached to the financing agreement. He confirmed in writing recently that Transport Scotland was continuing to write cheques on a month-by-month basis to the value of the sums applied for by CEC and that he was happy with this process.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

This despite the fact that CEC's audited accounts for the year 2009-10 say it has breached these conditions and is in discussions with TS about these.

Your article raises another spectre of a government which thinks it can continually mislead parliament, Mr Salmond's justification being that many millions of pounds were involved in SVR that was not going to be implemented, the sum being 7 million.

Despite his righteous stance he and his government have continued to write cheques to an organisation that is in breach of its financing agreement, where the cumulative sums are now more than 100m. Adding insult to injury, our government, by continuing to write cheques for the consultants and legal fees mentioned in your article, is perpetuating this long-running dispute with its contractors.

Salmond's outburst may come back to haunt him and his party at the next elections, especially on issues of support of the people of Edinburgh.

John RT Carson

Kirkliston Road

South Queensferry