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Council could seek more tram funds

Edinburgh Council has not ruled out asking the Scottish Government for more public money to complete the capital`s embattled tram project.

Scotland`s fourth largest public sector project is currently tied up in contractual red tape as the council struggles to find a compromise with its main contractor, which is disputing elements of the contract.

The Scottish Government has capped its investment at £500M, with Edinburgh Council responsible for finding the extra £45M envisaged in the original budget.

However, the council is already taking steps to push its contribution up to £100M to cover additional projected costs, but today council executives admitted they presently have no idea how far this total £600M budget will stretch.

The executives were called to give evidence to Holyrood`s Public Audit Committee today.

Lothians MSP Shirley Anne Somerville asked whether Edinburgh Council intended to ask the next Scottish Government for more money to complete the project.

Edinburgh Council director of finance Donald McGougan said that while government money “was not part of the contingency plan at the moment”, they would “explore any avenue” if more cash was required.

His options included approaching the Scottish Futures Trust, the system introduced by the SNP government to finance the construction of large public projects, or national transport agency Transport Scotland.

He said the full extent of the costs will not be known until at least the end of the mediation process about to get under way with the Bilfinger Berger-Siemens consortium responsible for delivering the trams.

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