Tram project set to move on after setback

by Sean McLennan and Oliver Hughes

The chairman of Transport Edinburgh, Lothian buses and TIE ltd, David Mackay, this morning made an executive decision to step down from his position at the three organisations. His resignation will come into immediate effect after his growing frustration over the progress of the controversial tram system.

Press officer, Lynn McMath of Transport Initiative Edinburgh (TIE) stated, “We are sad to lose him, but we understand the reason he had to leave. Edinburgh tram project will continue with the strategy that David implemented. The board fully endorsed his strategy.” Leader of the City of Edinburgh Council, Councillor Jenny Daw told the press “Urgent steps will be taken to ensure that we build upon the very substantial foundation that he has built.”

David McKay came under particular pressure with regard to TIE’s relationship to German contractor ‘Bilfinger Berger’, who he referred to in a recent interview with the Scotsman as delinquent contractor’. A statement with a notably different tone to his speech given in today’s press release.

“This project has been an enormously absorbing one and as such there was never going to be an entirely ideal time to step aside. In the past few months I have been keen to see a number of milestones set in place and this I have now done. I believe that for every Chair there comes an important juncture when the most powerful action you can take is to pass the controls to a successor and to then watch that organisation develop further under a new champion.

“The last few years have been stimulating and challenging and I believe that considerable progress has been made across many fronts and particularly, on Trams, where our imperative to protect the public purse has been notably successful.

“The time has now come when it is appropriate for me to move on which should allow me to refocus my energies on to a better, and probably much overdue, calmer work/life balance.

“I would particularly like to pay tribute to the many colleagues and peers I have worked with and those at Edinburgh Trams in particular who have shown remarkable resilience and energy in the face of what has been at times, a very difficult and complex situation”.

The German contractor is placed at the centre of many problems surrounding the project ranging from overflowing budget that has risen from 545mil to an estimated 600mil and the projects lack of  progress. McMath commented: “The dispute is centered around Bilfinger Berger but the negotiation team are currently looking for a solution to the problem.”

The advancement of the project now suspected to rest in the hands of chief executives Richard Jeffrey or Iain Craig though no single predecessor has been officially announced.