Princes Street works to start at last as deal ends tram row

A ROW which has brought tram work on Princes Street to a halt for a month has been resolved after a last-minute deal.

Work is now set to resume on Monday, with tram company TIE confirming it will begin "within the present contract and within the present budget envelope".

Councillors hammered out the deal with TIE and the InfraCo consortium, comprising Bilfinger Berger, Siemens and CAF, contracted to do the work last night.

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Work ground to a halt in February when the consortium reportedly demanded 50-80 million extra for work to begin on the Capital's main thoroughfare.

All parties were given until last Thursday to find a resolution before independent arbiters would be brought in.

However, private negotiations continued throughout yesterday, and a statement was issued late last night confirming that a resolution had been reached and that full works would begin next week.

City Council leader Jenny Dawe said: "The last month has been a frustrating period for everyone involved, not least the people of Edinburgh, and it's great news that the consortium and tie Limited have finally been able to resolve the outstanding issues.

"I would like to thank the people and businesses of Edinburgh for their incredible patience over the past month."

However, details of the resolution look set to remain private, with a TIE spokesman citing "contractual reasons" for their silence.

Bilfinger Berger previously reported that there were "around 100 issues outstanding" on top of the cash dispute which required a resolution, but the contractual silence means they may never be known.

The TIE spokesman added: "Part of the original contract laid down at the start of the project was that neither party would discuss any dispute or aggravation in public, but of course that agreement was broken by Bilfinger Berger."

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However, Edinburgh South MP Nigel Griffiths said the only way to restore confidence in the tram project was for all parties to be upfront.

He said: "They have got to give full public information. Only this will reassure the Edinburgh public that the trams will be delivered on time, and on budget."

A spokesman for the BSC Consortium said: "We are pleased that agreement for Princes Street has been reached and look forward to progressing the works in a spirit of cooperation."

David Mackay, chairman of TIE Limited, said: "I welcome today's decision to proceed with the Princes Street section and I have very much appreciated the full support of Jenny Dawe."

Lothians MSP Shirley-Anne Somerville said: "Ending this dispute is a welcome step but there are still many questions to be answered over this project.

"Crucially we must be told the fate of Princes Street for the Edinburgh Festival and Hogmanay."

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