agenda here, and the main Report is here ...
... I promised to put our Amendment up on the blog, in advance of the meeting tomorrow, and the text now follows below. I've not seen any other Groups' draft (or suggested) Amendment.
Clearly, St Andrew Square is going to happen tomorrow, and the additionally required debt to make that so will now need to be met directly by the Edinburgh Tax Payer --- unless the Scottish Government intervenes further - whether tomorrow (highly unlikely) or during the upcoming Spending Review?
So we're calling for that additional support to be forthcoming, so that Council services - and those of Lothian Buses - can be protected. And Transport Scotland should now remain involved, and make sure the tram is delivered - but it can't be at 'any cost' to the local Tax Payer.
City of Edinburgh Council
Full Council Meeting
2nd September 2011
Item 3.1 Edinburgh Tram Project
1. Council agrees that the report presented for decision today contains a material change of circumstances since the 25th August Tram Report.
2. Council notes that following the 2007 vote in the Scottish Parliament, in support of the Tram Project, the SNP Government instructed Transport Scotland to cease involvement with the then Tram Project Board. A project which at that point had incurred expenditure of just £44m and had received the backing of Audit Scotland, who described the project as having “clearly defined project management and organisation” with “sound financial management and reporting”.
3. Council therefore expresses surprise but welcomes the SNP Scottish Government’s apparent belated commitment – via Transport Scotland - to support Edinburgh’s Tram project.
4. Council further notes however the Scottish Government’s decision to withhold the final project grant payment, and regards this as a belated and aggressive tactic which forces the Council into an intolerable level of risk and financial commitment.
5. Council does though accept that to reject this thinly veiled ultimatum, to take the trams to St Andrew Square, would be likely to lead to the cancellation of the project.
6. Council also notes that to agree to the SNP Scottish Government’s thinly veiled ultimatum, to take the trams to St Andrew Square, means the Council will need to borrow at least £231million. This will increase current Council debt to an unprecedented level of some £1.5billion, with a specific cost to the revenue budget of at least £15.3million every year for 30 years.
7. The Council further notes that the report to the last Council meeting stated that the final cost of building the tram line from Airport to St Andrew Square cannot be guaranteed, and that there is therefore considerable concern about the potential impact on Lothian Buses’ budgetary position and their ability to maintain existing service levels.
8. Council thus remains greatly concerned that the actions proposed by the SNP Government would be likely to further increase the Council’s overall debt and lead to an ongoing reduction in services.
9. Council therefore agrees:
• That the Scottish Government needs to meet any additional cost for the completion of the tram line from the Airport to St Andrew Square
• to also investigate alternative funding models, which could alleviate the pressure on the Council budget, and report such back to the Council before the completion of the initial Airport to Haymarket section
• to request that the Council officers responsible for overseeing the delivery of the trams, along with representatives of the contractors, routinely attend the “All Parties Oversight Group” and the “Audit Committee” to report on overall project progress (thus accepting recommendation [x] on Page 4 of today’s report)
10. 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.
11. Council thus finally instructs the Chief Executive to bring a separate report on the issues referred to in paragraph 10 above to the next meeting of the Policy and Strategy Committee on 4th October 2011.