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Management of Scotland's EARL criticised


SCOTLAND'S AUDITOR GENERAL Robert Black this week raised concerns over the mismanagement of the Edinburgh Airport Rail Link (EARL).

Black's review of the EARL project and a proposed new tram scheme for the city precedes a decision by parliament on whether to cancel further spending on the two schemes.

While Black gives a clean bill of health to the Edinburgh Trams scheme, his review for Audit Scotland says lack of agreement over governance and procurement is inhibiting progress with the EARL project.

It says that the EARL Project Board is not functioning properly, resulting in 'a higher degree of uncertainty than might be expected because the key decision about the best way to procure the main contract work has yet to be made'.

Black also raised concerns that Transport Scotland has been unable to secure the involvement of BAA as a delivery partner, nor has it agreed a delivery role for Network Rail.

The fast-track review was commissioned by the incoming Scottish National Party to assess whether the projects were hitting time and cost targets.

Finance secretary John Swinney said: 'Audit Scotland has highlighted serious concerns about both projects and we will reflect on these before bringing our conclusions to parliament.' But former Transport minister Tavish Scott accused the SNP government of using the auditor general to justify political decisions.

'He has found no evidence of the cost over-runs which Ministers have been alleging since the election, ' he said.

'These projects are essential for Scotland's economy.'

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