Tram bosses still arguing with builders

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Mediators have stepped in to resolve six new disputes

TRAMS bosses have been embroiled in six new disputes with the contractors building the line, it has emerged.

Tram builders Bilfinger Berger were involved in hundreds of disputes with Transport Initiatives Edinburgh (TIE), before the body was made defunct.

An independent mediator was called in to handle disputes since work on Edinburgh’s tram project began again last year.

And council bosses have called on their services repeatedly since the project got back on track.

Edinburgh council chief executive Sue Bruce admitted arguments between the council and the builders had broken out but insisted they had not affected progress.

She said: “Since the signing of the settlement agreement, the independent certifier has ruled on four matters in relation to commercial valuations and two matters of contractual interpretation.

“There have been no challenges to any of these rulings.”

She added: “Satisfactory progress has been made on the project since signing the settlement agreement.

“The new governance agreements have been working well.”

But campaigners urged cautions over the figures, and called for the Scottish Government to move in if the relationship became ‘deadlocked’.

Resolved

Taxpayer Scotland said: “It’s good to see that the council are being transparent about these new issues, we now have to hope that the project management team is capable of resolving issues fast to keep the contract on track and on budget.

“Taxpayers have paid so much for the trams that we need to be reassured that the management team is up to the job.”

“We hope that the Scottish Government is keeping a close watch on these developments.

“At the first sight of the relationship beginning to become deadlocked or the schedule beginning to drift, we hope they won’t just bury their head in the sand but go into action on our behalf.”

But councillors said meeting with mediators was not a sign of a breakdown between parties.

The city’s transport leader, Councillor Gordon Mackenzie, said: “The evidence so far demonstrates that, under the new arrangements all parties are working together productively and proactively, with any differences that emerge being resolved swiftly.

“The project has clearly entered a new phase, one in which we are seeing the benefits of the decision taken to go into mediation and the resulting agreement with the contractor.”

It was also confirmed £521million has been spent on the trams project so far, and the council claims it remains on budget.

A document revealed today revealed that £1million from a ‘risk allowance’ budget had been spent on new tram-related costs.

The tram lines, which will go from Edinburgh Airport to the city centre, are budgeted at £776m.

The £34million ‘risk allowance’ pot was to fund redesign and unexpected utility works.

£1million has been spent from this budget on 14 different projects.

The most expensive was the £233,595 redesign of a substation, which will be moved to Cathedral Lane.

 

 


 

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