A public enquiry has found the Edinburgh Trams project suffered from countless mistakes and “a litany of avoidable failures”
The inquiry, which was chaired by Lord Hardie and began in June 2014 to understand how the project costs had ballooned to over £800 million and was five years late.
In his report, Lord Hardie concludes that failings by the City of Edinburgh Council and its associated arms-length companies were to blame for the delays.
Tie, the company initially set up to deliver the project was criticised for its mishandling of the project and in particularly not cooperating or collaborating with the other key stakeholders in the project – Edinburgh City Council and the Scottish Government.
The route for the tram was a 8.7 mile stretch from Edinburgh airport to the city centre which opened in 2014, just over five years later than originally planned. However this was shorter than the originally planned line – which was planned to finish at Newhaven but instead, stopped at York Place in the city centre.
Initially, councillors expected the project to be completed within the £545 million budget initially earmarked for the project but costs totalled £776 million once the project finally did open in 2015.
Lord Hardie said in a video statement: "Tie's failures were the principal cause of the failure to deliver the project on time and within budget" but added that the City of Edinburgh Council "must also share principal responsibility with Tie for the delays in design".
In the inquiry, multiple issues were blamed for the delay. These included a departure from an initial procurement strategy which was designed to mitigate risk, a poor performance and delay in production of design from contractors Parsons Brinckerhof and a lack of accountability and clarity on roles within the complex elements of the project.
Also blamed was the Scottish Government, who walked away from the project in 2007, with a vacuum of oversight in the intervening years causing complications.
Lord Hardie sets out 24 recommendations, including considering whether there is a requirement for new laws to allow for civil and criminal sanctions against individuals or companies that knowingly submit reports that include false statements to councillors.
He said: "What is clear from the inquiry's work is that there was a litany of avoidable failures on the parts of several parties whose role it was to ensure that public funding was spent effectively and to the benefit of Scotland's taxpayers, and that the Edinburgh Trams Project was delivered efficiently.
"Poor management and abdication of responsibility on a large scale have had a significant and lasting impact on the lives and livelihoods of Edinburgh residents, and the reputation of the city."
Scottish Conservative MSP for the Lothians Miles Briggs said: "Lord Hardie is highly critical of councillors and the arms-length bodies responsible for the project - but he also singles out Scottish government for criticism.
"He is clear that ministers failed to protect the public purse and acted in the SNP's political interests, rather than the public interest."
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