Greens back trams but seek better funding models

Today Green Councillors again voted for the tram line to go to St Andrew Square but the Green amendment which also proposed that alternatives to funding the tram be investigated, such as a tourist ‘bed-tax’, failed to win support from other parties. Steve BurgegssGroup Co-ordinator Councillor Steve Burgess said;

‘Whilst we voted again today for the line to St Andrew Square, we couldn’t support the LibDem Administration because unlike Greens, they weren’t proposing alternative ways to fund the tram such as a tourist bed-tax which is successful in other European cities.

‘Council approved up to £15.3 million annual extra borrowing for 30 years but we need to get that figure down if it’s not to impact on the future delivery of Council services.  A tourist bed-tax would be one way to raise new money to pay for the tram.

‘Despite our constant concern that there’s still no fixed price for the tram line to St Andrew Square, we had to accept there is now no time for further work to eliminate risk because there’s a deadline today after which the contract automatically terminates and we end up in court.

‘Those calling for cancellation have failed to explain where the Council would get the £161m to pay off contractors without completely devastating council services.  Even the SNP have accepted there’s no alternative but to press ahead with the line to St Andrew Square.

‘We restate our support for a public enquiry into what has caused escalating cost and delays to this project’

NOTES: (1) Green amendment is available from the above number. Paras 6 and state;

‘Council…Is concerned that there are still risks and no maximum cost for the line to St. Andrew Square and furthermore a lack of contingency in case the project goes even further over budget than current risk estimates allow, however concludes that there is presently no prudent alternative other than to authorise proceeding with the line to St Andrew Square and therefore agrees recommendations (i)-(iv) on the understanding that approval is for funding of up to £776m and notes recommendations (v)-(xi);

Requests the Chief Executive actively investigate alternative funding mechanisms to contribute towards payment for the project including a tourist ‘bed-tax’ as operated in other cities and to actively pursue actions to drive down costs in order to keep the project within the proposed new budget and report on these to Council’