£800K for Edinburgh tram bosses
BOSSES at Edinburgh’s disastrous trams project were paid a “breathtaking” £800,000 after they left the project.
Shocking new figures reveal that seven senior directors from the firm which started the project received up to £158,000 each.
Transport Initiatives Edinburgh (TIE), the company set up by Edinburgh Council to run the project, started work in 2005 but was scrapped in October 2011 as spiralling costs and delays made the city a national laughing stock.
Former chief executive Richard Jeffery is understood to have received £158,000 – £82,000 for loss of office and the rest as salary paid in lieu of working six months’ notice.
The documents confirm that a total of £406,635 was handed out in “loss of office” compensation, in payments ranging from £87,211 to £30,855.
A further £400,000 is estimated to have been paid to the seven in lieu of working notice, a figure the council declined to comment on.
The revelations have provoked outrage, with Scottish Labour calling the sums of money “breathtaking”.
The delay-ridden project is now set to cost the council £776 million to complete, despite original estimates of only £545 million.
Edinburgh’s main thoroughfare, Princes Street, has been closed since May last year due to the ongoing construction works and traffic is gridlocked in the area for much of the day.
The current timetable suggests the project should be completed by 2014, although the trams will not cover as much of the city as originally planned.
Project director Steven Bell is estimated to have received £283,900 in notice and compensation, though he only worked between April and October 2011.
He was also given a bonus of £15,100.
Programme director Susan Clark was also given a bonus of £9,182 and in total received an estimated £156,700.
Commercial director Dennis Murray received an estimated £154,100 overall, including £5600 in bonuses.
Overall more than £35,019 was paid out in bonuses to the top seven directors.
TIE had originally resisted giving out the figures, but they have now been unveiled by the new administration at Edinburgh council.
Kezia Dugdale, a Scottish Labour MSP for the Lothians, said: “These are breathtaking sums of money, and I am delighted that the new administration on the council is finally opening the books and bringing some transparency.
“It is a step-change in approach.
“We can’t start putting things right until we know what has gone wrong. This strengthens Labour’s call for a public inquiry.”
Eben Wilson, of campaign group Taxpayer Scotland, said: “These are incredible payments being made for a project that’s staggered from confusion to crisis.
“Scottish taxpayers really want a decent performance from the tram team and to see results that are more than just street blockages and inconvenience for shoppers.
“We are totally justified to be outraged by these salaries.”
Lesley Hinds, transport leader in the Labour-SNP coalition that came to power in May, said: “I have long called for greater transparency into the tram project and the publication of these figures is a step in the right direction, even if I don’t agree with the amounts.
“This is an opportunity to draw a line under TIE’s involvement and for us as councillors to ensure that the project is tightly managed and all spending is properly scrutinised.”
Alastair Maclean, director of corporate governance at Edinburgh Council, said: “The council took direct control of the tram project in 2011 at a point when it was clear a change of direction was needed.
“Following the council decision on 2 September 2011, construction is now proceeding in line with the revised budget and programme.
“New governance arrangements were put in place and the council brought in professional project management expertise and agreed to wind down Tie Limited, as was reported on 25 August 2011.
“There was a significant cost in resolving the issues with Tie and putting in place more effective control of the project.”
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