Tram alarm

The Scotsman - - Perspective / Letters To The Editor -

Since John Car­son (Let­ters, 9 Jan­uary) is a re­spected civil en­gi­neer whose com­ments about the dis­as­ter of the Ed­in­burgh trams have al­ways been ac­cu­rate, we should have no rea­son to doubt his re­cent com­pu­ta­tion on the costs, de­spite an opin­ion by Au­dit Scot­land in 2007 that the coun­cil’ s fig­ures were“ro­bust ”.

The des­per­ate at­tempts by the au­thor­i­ties to dress losses up as prof­its have be­come ha­bit­ual over the years. The orig­i­nal cost of a Scot­tish Par­lia­ment build­ing was at one time pitched at a mere £10 mil­lion. The of­fi­cial num­ber­crunch­ers even­tu­ally ad­mit­ted that the cost might come in as high as £500 mil­lion, and when it was signed off at £430 mil­lion it was de­clared to be “un­der bud­get”.

The Lon­don Olympics is an­other case in point. In her book Called to Ac­count Mar­garet Hodge stated: “We hosted a bril­liant Olympics in Lon­don that came in within bud­get.” The “of­fi­cial” fi­nal cost of £8.77 bil­lion was a far cry from the £13 bil­lion cited by the Games Mon­i­tor web­site, but even that seemed a touch on the light side com­pared to a Sky Sports in­ves­ti­ga­tion which fac­tored in re­lated trans­port up­grade costs, tak­ing the to­tal to £24 bil­lion.

The ear­li­est pro­jected fig­ure of around £1.8bn cited in a joint re­port by Ove Arup and prop­erty con­sul­tants In­signia Richard El­lis was nowhere near any of these out­comes, need­less to say. To para­phrase the words of Humpty Dumpty in Alice Through The Look­ing Glass, “a bud­get shall mean just what I choose it to mean; nei­ther more nor less”.

DAVID J BLACK

Glanville Place, Ed­in­burgh

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