You couldn't make it up...you'd think
Edinburgh Council called it "prudential borrowing" in 2011...after blowing £500M+ with absolutely nothing to show for anything on the Edinburgh tram project...they were desperate.
Desperate enough to decide saving their face was worth another £500M or so of OUR money.
They wanted *something*...anything...to give even a pretence of *success* in a project that had turned into a worldwide byword for incompetence. And so the decision was made to throw another Half a Billion or so after the one already spent.
Three years ago (and the proof is elsewhere on this site) we said the real annual costs of the tram to the city were going to be £18M to £20M a year or thereabouts because of this loan and the operational losses the truncated line would incur. The Council said nothing.
Fact 1) The figures produced to allow the council to present the desperate push to have *something* run on Princes Street, unravelled just weeks after the vital votes were done.
Fact2) The 'prudential borrowing' was presented as just one of those things that cities HAVE to do ..all cities...all over the world (It wasn't)
Fact 3) The original budgeted TOTAL cost of the project, to the city of Edinburgh, was £20M..
Fact 4) Now they admit the real cost is around £20M - but EVERY year until 2040.
And Fact 5) is that if you want to see EXACTLY what this *opportunity cost* created by the money we DON'T have looks like, you can now...just click here and play Edinbudget, it's available to December 19th.
Its a game on the Council website that puts YOU in the hot seat to make the difficult decisons needed to make badly needed savings totalling £67M between now and 2018.
Yes! That is virtually the EXACT amount we would have available ---- if they hadn't blown it in 2011 to save their own reputations.
The tram was always an expensive vanity project, compromised in it's conception, pushed forward in a muddle, and managed incompetently, in which ALL the political parties had a hand, and from which NONE emerge with credit.
Of course, as the Council never fail to tell us, It' is modern and it is shiny, and it is still (for now) *new*...and it goes to the airport of course ----- but that isn't a reason to build it,and it never was, it's just the only wafer thin excuse they could come up with to keep up the pretence that everything's OK now.
IT isn't OK though, and these very real cuts described in the Edinbudget game are part terrific public involvement wheeze and part grotesque confirmation of how bad things really are.
And also confirmation of how a council can spend so long not telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth about a project and it's real effects on everybody's lives in the city the that eventually they forget how to.
In a way it doesn't matter really whether they tell the true story or not.... the figures speak for themselves, and whether they like it or not, however hard they try and keep spinning, the real costs of the tram project are being made crystal clear in their own games playing and not only for the next four years, but all the way to 2040.