Huge interest in the tram-saga at the moment, with yet another crucial decision coming up at Full Council this Thursday ... relevant report can be found here.
Our own Group Meeting was earlier this evening, and we're firmly of the view that the current report just confirms our earlier decision to support the Haymarket-option.
I'll repeat below our draft amendment, following our Group Meeting ... it may well be slightly altered during the next 48-hours but I don't expect the main thrust of it to be changed:
City of Edinburgh Council
DRAFT Labour Amendment
Full Council Meeting
25th August 2011
Item 8.2 Edinburgh Tram Project
1. Council agrees that the report presented for decision today contains a material change of circumstances since the 30th June Tram Report – as regards:
• the detailed financial implications for the Council’s revenue budget over a 30-year period
• the acknowledgement (see para. 3.14) that it is not possible to guarantee a fixed or maximum cost for the works to St. Andrew Square
• the financial risk to Lothian Buses’ revenue-stream and its long-term viability
• the scale of (until now) unreported utility diversions
• the severity of the potential impact on local businesses
2. Council notes the report’s recommendations but does not agree them, with the exception of 8.1(d) on the project governance arrangements.
3. Council again notes that this is a project which Audit Scotland gave a clean bill of health in June 2007. Since then it appears to have totally unravelled.
4. Council now agrees that, given the material change of circumstances, the proposal with least risk, is to build from the Airport to Haymarket as phase one of a longer-term, strategic plan.
5. Council therefore instructs:
• That the finalised terms of the Settlement Agreement should be delegated to the Chief Executive to take forward, as per decision 4 above, and following consultation with political group leaders.
• The Chief Executive is thus authorised to enter into the Settlement Agreement substantively on the terms set out in the earlier ‘settlement summary’, with such amendments as may be necessary and following consultation with political group leaders – all prior to 1st September 2011, or any later date mutually agreed by the main parties.
• That, as shareholder, Lothian Buses is given a primary role in preparing for operations as soon as possible, to ensure maximum operational income and public transport service integration.
6. Council finally notes that there are ongoing, and significant, concerns within Edinburgh’s business community about the specific issues of: Rates Relief; General Business Support; and Potential Compensation.
7. Council thus finally instructs the Chief Executive, regardless of which option is ultimately pursued today, to bring a separate report on these issues to the next meeting of the Policy and Strategy Committee on 6th September 2011