Malcolm calls for an inquiry into recent management of the Trams Project
Funding for the Edinburgh Trams Project Malcolm Chisholm (Edinburgh North and Leith) (Lab):
To ask the Scottish Executive what issues it and Transport Scotland raised with the City of Edinburgh Council before handing over each instalment of funding for the Edinburgh trams project. (S3O-11356)

The Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth (John Swinney):
Monthly progress meetings are held with the City of Edinburgh Council as part of the formal governance arrangements for the project.

Malcolm Chisholm (Edinburgh North and Leith) (Lab):
Does the minister accept that there will have to be an inquiry into the tram project in due course, covering problems with the 2008 contract, mismanagement by the council, the extent of any monitoring by the Scottish Government and other matters? Does he agree that there are two more urgent and immediate priorities: first, to drive as hard a bargain as possible with Bilfinger Berger, the company that is holding up the work and is trying to extract as much as possible from the public purse; and secondly, to ensure that the whole line, from the airport to Newhaven, is completed without extra cost to council tax payers, but using, if necessary, innovative funding methods such as tax increment financing, which I suggested in a recent letter to the minister?

The Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth (John Swinney):
As Mr Chisholm will be aware, I have been making it clear to the City of Edinburgh Council for some considerable time that the Government has offered and continues to offer practical assistance in the development of a tax increment finance proposition for the City of Edinburgh Council. I look forward to continuing discussions with the city council on that.

On resolution of the current disputes with Bilfinger Berger, I assure Mr Chisholm of my insistence with TIE and the City of Edinburgh Council that they must protect the public purse and act to complete the project. That is certainly the approach that is being taken by TIE, and I encourage resolution of the contractual disputes so that the tram project can make progress.

Various inquiries can take place at any stage in the future, but I want to focus attention on the completion of this major capital infrastructure programme for the city of Edinburgh as soon, as effectively and as efficiently as possible.
September 16th 2010, (Column 28644-5) The Edinburgh Trams Project and the Waterfront Development Malcolm Chisholm (Edinburgh North and Leith) (Lab):
Does the cabinet secretary recognise that the completion of the tram project is vital for developments on Edinburgh's waterfront, and in west Edinburgh as Tesco Bank acknowledged in a statement last week? Will he consider the use of TIF [tax increment financing] as an important tool for plugging any funding shortfall that may arise in completing the route to Newhaven?

The Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth (John Swinney):
As I said in my previous answer, the TIF proposal that the council presented to me focuses on the development of new public infrastructure, which will undoubtedly assist in the development of the waterfront.

Mr Chisholm is familiar with my perspective on the tram project. I have at all stages encouraged the resolution of the disputes that present an obstacle to the project's completion, and I hope that all parties will take that approach in resolving those questions.
October 7th 2010, (Column 29462-3)