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on Tue, 04/03/2012 - 22:57

Edinburgh Council are to pursue the Portobello Park Action Group (PPAG) for their costs in fighting a case over the conflict between the PPAG desire to protect parkland and the Council's desire to build a new school on some of that land.

In the story and press release:

Phil Wheeler, Convener of Finance and Resources added: “Enough is enough.  The Council has incurred significant legal expenses to date, in excess of £75,000, and the Appeal will incur considerable additional costs.    We have a duty to Edinburgh’s taxpayers to ensure their money is not wasted and we intend to pursue PPAG for their costs to date.  We will also use all measures available to us to protect the council taxpayer from further expense arising from the ongoing legal proceedings”.

The prospect of the Council sueing it's own citizens for challenging a decison using the legal system set up for that purpose is unsettling.

Councillor Wheeler's statement is equally so given the context of his recent work on behalf of the city serving as a Director of tie Ltd..

During his time serving as a Director of the Board of tie Ltd, (the company tasked with using £545 Million to deliver the Edinburgh tram network), Councillor Wheeler's discharge of the 'duty to Edinburgh's taxpayers to ensure their money is not wasted' was arguably less than unblemished.

The company on whose Board he sat ,not only spent the entire £545M without delivering a single yard of workable tram line but one of it's final acts before complete collapse was to participate in a deal that guaranteed a minimum payment of a further £231 Million to the contractor, this amount is uncapped, in exchange for building a line shorter than that contracted under the original terms of the scheme budgeted at £545M.

The financing costs of the scheme, which will hopefully be restricted to £14M a years for 30 years or a further £420 Million in total will see the total costs for the single track scheme top out at £1,196,000,000 given this amount will not see the whole original scheme built but only a fragment of it,.

The £651,000,000, is so large that if PPAG were to  cost the council £75,000 every single year, to match that total (the amount over and above the original budget|)  being thrown into the Edinburgh Tram project, they would have had to have started their annual legal challenges in 6,668BC---   over 1,600 years before the Sumerian civilisation rose in Mesopotamia.

But getting the £75,000 back off PPAG will help the city's finances and if we can get it back each year from now until 10692AD we'll have balanced the books on the ETN overspend as well




This quote says it all - the costs of forcing through projects without meaningful engagement aren't the Council's, they are borne by the very people they are taking to court, who may end up paying the Council three times - twice financially and perpetually in terms of loss of the park they value so much! The people bringing this action are using their own money as a sign of their strength of feeling, whilst Cllr Phil Wheeler can operate in an environment where his leader, Jenny Dawe views going over budget by hundreds of millions as simply a 'glitch'!  £75,000 is a lot of money Mr Wheeler - are you sure that expenditure was proportionate? The Public Accounts committee has a nice phrase for this type of excess - 'buying a Rolls Royce to carry a sack of potatoes'! 

Councillor Wheeler typifies the approach of the City Council who cannot bear to have residents stand in their way.   This city is being ruled by the Council officers and a few Councillors who are there seemingly to do as they are told.   The cost of allowing this redress to justice is tiny when compared with the many hundreds of millions that Councillor Wheeler and Councillor Mackenzie under the leadershio of the Leader, Jenny Dawe, have squandered on the trams project - what price is justice in this city?

Residents have the audacity to oppose the council's bid to deprive them of their local park. Not surprisingly, Edinburgh city council officers and their flock of sheep - otherwise known as councillors - don't like that.

So they dream up a cunning plan to silence those pesky protestors - pursue them for legal fees and costs of £75,000 incurred in shutting them up. That should scare those uppity ordinary citizens into giving up the fight.

But they don't want the public to think they're using bullyboy tactics, so tell them it's to "protect the council taxpayer from further expense."

Disregard the minor matter of the many millions of pounds the council has squandered on a useless tram project that has brought the city to its knees, driven away tourists and shoppers, wrecked businesses and left the city's council taxpayers with a bill we'll spend the rest of our lives trying to pay off.

It's time the citizens of Edinburgh got shot of this council and its highly-paid, self-serving officials.



The officers and officials are setting the agenda and pushing this forward, until the councillors take some responsibility for what is going on nothing is likely to change--that is why the forthcoming election is so vital, somehow we have to get life back into the elected council chamber.

As you say the phrase "on budget and on schedule" has ceased to have any meaning in the ordinary sense when used in connection with this project.

The Council want to forget all about the previous £545M---but in ignoring the history of the project they appear to be ignoring the lessons from History--and repeating the errors made before.


With recent reports indicating the 'extra' £231M may already be running out.

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