Edinburgh Trams Inquiry: Key points as Lord Hardie's damning report published - how much did the inquiry cost? Who is to blame?
The damning report into the Edinburgh Trams Inquiry has now been published, looking at exactly why the project was delayed by years and went hundreds of millions of pounds over budget.
This inquiry was started after the original 8.5-mile stretch of tramline between Edinburgh Airport and Newhaven cost £776 million, more than £200m the original budget, and took seven years to complete, opening three years late in 2014.
How much did the inquiry cost? How much was Lord Hardie paid?
The total cost of the inquiry was £13,126,725 by the end of July 2023.
However, the net cost to the taxpayer was reduced to £8,719,127 by using “existing public resources that were not replaced and discounting the public expenditure already incurred relation to these resources”.
In total, Lord Hardie’s report is almost 1,000 pages long, and the inquiry involved scouring through six million emails and other documents, and taking evidence from nearly 100 witnesses over eight months of public hearings.
In June, it was revealed Lord Hardie was paid more than £1m for chairing the inquiry between 2014 and August 2021.
Who is to blame?
Lord Hardie says there was a “litany of avoidable failures” by City of Edinburgh Council, Tie – the council’s tram firm – and Scottish ministers.
His report says all three were “principally responsible for the failure to deliver the project on time, within budget and to the extent projected”, with “considerable oversight, management and strategic mistakes” by all three.
The document added: “There can be little doubt that Tie’s mismanagement played a significant role in the failure to deliver the project on time and within budget and to the extent projected.”
Trams firm did not stick to its procurement strategy
The National Audit Office initially advised Tie it should separate out some of its procurement contacts to help reduce the costs and encourage private sector investment.
Lord Hardie said this was a “sensible” decision, but was not taken forward, ultimately contributing to the project’s overall failings.
The report said: “The difficulties with the project were not attributable to the procurement strategy – they were a result of Tie’s failure to implement it in relation to the completion of design in advance of the Infraco contract and the diversion of utilities in advance of the infrastructure works.
“It seemed to me that criticisms of the strategy by Tie witnesses were motivated by a desire to divert attention from their own failures.”
Scottish ministers abandoned expert advice
While Scottish ministers had no experience of building a tram line in Scotland, they did have access to those with experience of negotiating large transport infrastructure projects who could help them. However, in 2007 ministers abandoned this help and the report concludes this meant the project lost its managerial expertise – and therefore contributed to the numerous failings.
Review of public inquiries demanded
On the back of this report, Lord Hardie recommends Scottish ministers undertake a review of public inquiries so future inquiries are cost-effective.
He says this could include considering creating a dedicated unit within the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service for this purpose. The report adds that in reporting the cost of a public inquiry, ministers need to report both the net cost to the taxpayer as well as the total cost.
Multiple failures by the council’s trams firm
The report repeatedly highlights failings and criticism of Tie, saying the body did not work collaboratively with City of Edinburgh Council or other partners on this project.
It also says Tie underestimated the cost of the project and took on too many risks.
Lord Hardie also points to delays with production design caused by the poor performance of contractor Parsons Brinckerhoff, and a lack of clarity on who did what, which complicated the running of the project.
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