Edinburgh tram councillor lacked skills

by Tiffany Millar on October 12, 2011

Edinburgh City Council’s main transport convener has admitted that he didn’t have the right skills to be able to properly scrutinise his city’s troubled tram project.

Gordon Mackenzie was one of the four councillors on TIE’s board , the company which oversaw development of the tram scheme. Before assuming his position, he had a background in social work. Mackenzie said that other board members also lacked technical and legal expertise that is required for the job due to their backgrounds in electronics and banking management.

The Edinburgh tram project has come under criticism for being years behind schedule and over budget. Recently, cost estimates for the running of the line from the Scottish capital’s airport to its St Andrews Square were £776m, which is far higher than what was originally claimed for the network’s entirety, let alone just one of its parts.

TIE, the aforementioned publicly-owned firm set up to oversee the project, has since been scrapped. Mackenzie, a Liberal Democrat councillor, said that he, as well as others, is not a person with previous experience of handling major projects of such magnitude. He added that he looks back and is sure that the inquiry is going look at this, with his feeling being that the right skill mix was absent. At one point, the project ground to a complete halt due to a contractual dispute with Bilfinger Berger. Like Mackenzie, the company has spoken publicly about the many troubles that the project has encountered.

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