TIE bosses 'quit en masse' as trams shake-up looms

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FOUR directors of the city's tram firm have reportedly quit "en masse" amid rumours of a shake-up at the company.

&#149 Richard Jeffrey

The four non-executive directors of TIE are understood to have quit last week following the departure of chief executive Richard Jeffrey.

It is not known why the men chose to leave, although the council is thought to be looking at ways of trimming costs at TIE, with some suggestions the company could be put into "suspended animation".

The four men are Neil Scales, the chief executive of Mersey- Travel, Brian Cox, a former board member at Stagecoach, Scottish Government official Kenneth Hogg and Peter Strachan, who previously worked for Network Rail.

A report was published earlier this month detailing the outcome of mediation talks which recommended changes to how the tram project is governed.

It said tram firm TIE and Transport Edinburgh Limited were being told to "review overhead costs and achieve savings wherever possible". Just days later it was announced that Mr Jeffrey, whose salary was thought to be 155,000, was quitting.

A review of TIE had been expected to lead to further departures, including three non-executive members of the board. But according to sources, all four non-executive directors took the decision to walk away.

One source said: "There's a suggestion that TIE is being put into suspended animation, with the council taking the project in-house. If that were the case, you would only need a handful of people moving from TIE to the council and everybody else would be paid off."

A source close to the TIE board said it had been clear for months that the board was "not functioning".

They said: "Fewer and fewer decisions were being made by the board and more and more were being referred to the council. It was clear the dispute with the contractors had to be resolved by the politicians as it was the council along with Transport Scotland who held the purse strings and until the question about additional resources was resolved, the TIE board was virtually redundant."

A report is due to go before the council on June 30 detailing costs of completing the project to St Andrew Square against scrapping it. The council faces a bill of 150-200 million over and above the current budget to get the tram to the city centre.

A spokesman for the tram project said: "Governance is one of the issues being addressed as part of the paper being presented to the council.

"Any matters relating to the board will be discussed at the next tram project board meeting and we will not be commenting further until after this point."