By Kirsty Topping
TRAM chiefs could be forced to hand back millions of pounds to businesses who will no longer benefit from the line.
Companies which would benefit from the introduction were due to fund more than half of the council’s share of the costs.
But last week’s shock decision not to run the line to St Andrew Square means the council could face paying back the £5million is has already collected and write of a further £20m.
Paying back the money would mean the council would face a funding black hole as it struggles to find its £45m share of the projected cost.
However a spokesman for Edinburgh trams said that the money provided by the businesses was not specifically for the trams and could be used to fund other improvements, such as roadworks, nearby.
He said: “In the event that the Council decides not to proceed with the Tram Project or if the Tram Project has not commenced within ten years of the date of payment of the Tram Contribution, the Council shall be entitled to use the Tram Contribution for the provision of alternative public transport improvements serving the Development.”
It’s also been revealed that a consortium could take over the building of the tram system.
Train manufacturer Bombardier and French company RATP, which operate the Manchester trams and the Paris Metro system, have offered to finance the system and be paid back once the trams are running.
The consortium had preciously had an offer rejected in July but it is believed they are still interested and could complete the route to St Andrew Square for £169m and to its original Newhaven destination for £214m.
However city development director Dave Anderson said the figures should be treated with “a huge degree of caution”.
The cost of running the trams to Haymarket has been estimated at £704m, but fears have been voiced that tens of millions of pounds could be added to the cost because of the need to build a turning circle.
Councillor Jenny Dawe said: “A turning circle will have to be fitted in somewhere, otherwise we will have one tram going back and forth.”
But the Labour group dismissed the concerns and called for the council administration to get on with the job of building the tram to Haymarket.