By Kirsty Topping
OFFICIALS behind Edinburgh’s tram fiasco have been shortlisted for an excellence award.
Edinburgh City Council is in the running for the title of “Council of the Year in Service Delivery”, despite failing to deliver the tram line on time, on budget, or to its original destination.
The council was up against 300 other local authorities in the competition, which is run by the Association for Public Sector Excellence (APSE).
Council chiefs have labeled the nomination a “fantastic achievement” but business owners who have had their livelihoods damaged by the tram works have been left scratching their heads.
Gordon Burgess, owner of The Bed Shop in Leith Walk, lost half his custom during initial works only to be told the trams would not reach his store.
He said: “Trams are the thing that the current administration will be long remembered for.
“Business is a bit better now, but it couldn’t have got much worse, quite frankly.
“Leith has the problem of having to endure what we had to endure, and we won’t get any benefit. It’s a double whammy.”
However council leader Jenny Dawe said the award had nothing to do with the trams and was down to their handling of other services such as education, bin collections and libraries.
“It is a fantastic achievement for Edinburgh to be shortlisted for the UK Council of the Year award,” she said.
“I congratulate staff across the council for their hard work and dedication to providing excellent services for residents that has led to these nominations.
“This builds on our success in the best efficiency initiative category at last year’s awards and demonstrates a culture of real continuous improvement.”
Paul O’Brien, chief executive of APSE said Edinburgh had been chosen from some “big names” in local government.
He said: “After an austere couple of years these awards are a way to acknowledge that, despite the pressures on local councils, those that work to deliver front-line services have continued to make sure they provide much valued services to local residents and businesses.”
But Alan Rudland, chair of the Leith Business Association, warned the council not to rest on their laurels.
He said: “The award is for service delivery and is recognising what has gone on in the past, it’s clearly not taking in account the decision-making on the tram project.
“I think nominations for such awards will be much more difficult over the next 30 years when the council is paying off the debts to pay for the trams.”
The final winner will be announced at a ceremony in Bristol on Thursday.
A council spokesman said no councillors will be attending the award ceremony.
The news comes less than a week after it was announced that the project will run to St Andrew Square, after an earlier meeting had voted to end the service at Haymarket.
The estimated cost of the trams now stands at £773million, well above the original £545million budget.
Last month is was revealed that the council is desperately trying to sell off their surplus tram vehicles, already painted in Edinburgh livery, to raise funds to plug the spending shortfall.