Edinburgh trams: Inquiry made statutory after 'lack of co-operation'
Lord Hardie, who is running the inquiry into why the project was over budget, asked for the status to be changed.
The public inquiry into why the Edinburgh trams project was late and over budget has been made statutory after a "lack of co-operation".
The £776m system started taking fare-paying passengers on May 31, three years late and £231m more than budgeted for.
The project was beset with problems, with a dispute between contractors Bilfinger Berger and the City of Edinburgh Council halting work for two years.
The initial route was cut after costs started to spiral, with trams from Edinburgh Airport terminating at York Place rather than Newhaven.
A non-statutory public inquiry led by Lord Hardie was announced earlier this year.
On Friday, deputy first minister Nicola Sturgeon said the inquiry has been made statutory to compel evidence to be handed over and witnesses to participate.
Ms Sturgeon said: "It was the view of the Scottish Government that a non-statutory inquiry with the co-operation of those with knowledge of the project was the simplest way to ensure the swift answers that people want.
"Lord Hardie has however now reported a lack of co-operation by some, which is clearly unjustifiable. I have therefore given the Inquiry the statutory powers he has requested to ensure that the necessary evidence is secured and a robust final report produced.
"Lord Hardie has assured me that converting the Inquiry to a statutory basis will not increase the costs and time required as he had intended to apply similar procedures. I continue to attach great importance to an inquiry that is quick, efficient and cost effective."
Council leader Andrew Burns said: "We welcome this development as it will surely lead to a broader and more detailed picture of what went wrong with the project. It is important that lessons are learned for the benefit of future infrastructure projects, whether they be here in Edinburgh or elsewhere.
"The council has consistently stated its commitment to co-operate fully with the inquiry and we continue to provide whatever support and assistance we can to facilitate it."
The trams were due to be in operation in 2011 with an original budget of £545m, but the project ran into trouble in 2009 when a dispute broke out between transport firm TIE and the contractors.
The argument was eventually resolved two years later. The final budget was £776m, with the council facing interest payments totalling £228m over the next 30 years.
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