When is a billion not a billion?

COUNCIL chiefs today insisted that it is unfair to describe the tram project as a £1 billion scheme.

The city council’s own figures show it will have to borrow £15.3 million every year for 30 years to deliver the project, giving a total cost of loan repayments of £459m. Added to the approved budget of £545m, it gives a total cost of just over £1bn.

But council chiefs insist the “time value of money” means repayments will only actually cost £291m in real terms, which would put the cost at £836m.

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Dave Anderson, the city council’s director of corporate services, said: “If you have £100 today then, in three years’ time, it will be worth a lot less. Suggesting this will cost £1bn is a misrepresentation.

“Assuming inflation, the council’s budget in 30 years’ time is likely to be ten times higher than it currently is, so £15m then is more likely to be the equivalent of £1.5m now.”