£13K of taxpayers’ money blown on expenses for tram talks


TRAM chiefs blew 13,000 on luxury hotels and expenses as they tried to find a solution to the crisis-hit Edinburgh project.

The bitter dispute between tram firm TIE and its contractors led to five days of mediation talks at the luxury Mar Hall hotel, Glasgow, in March.

The costs of hiring the venue rose to nearly 7,000 with a further 1,300 spent on hiring the nearby Gleddoch House hotel, according to official figures.

Another 2,382 was splashed out to house seven Edinburgh City Council staff, thought to include chief executive Sue Bruce and director of city development Dave Anderson, at Gleddoch House.

TIE said its staff had racked up a further 2,027 in claims but highlighted that neither project director Steven Bell or Vic Emery, the tram chairman who lives close to the hotels in Glasgow’s West End, had submitted claims.

A spokesman for the tram project said:

“The mediation process has been vital in securing a way forward for the project that will see trams running in Edinburgh within a few years.

“With this in mind the costs incurred were necessary and perhaps minor in comparison with the alternative. “

Michael Shane, the London-based mediator was brought into host the discussions and have still to give the council final claims bill.

Officials are thought to have worked until 3am during the talks to apparently improve the working relationship between TIE and its main contractor Bilfinger Berger.

It was announced earlier this month the German company would resume work on the trams after improvements at Gogar, Haymarket and Princes Street were stopped for months.

Deputy council leader Steve Cardownie said:

“I was assured by the council’s chief executive that costs were going to be kept to a minimum.

“It seems to me there’s been a genuine attempt to do that as much as they can.

“If, at the end of the day, they have managed to sort out some of the problems then it could be that this money is well spent. “

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