How nice for the residents of Edinburgh that work on the city’s new tram system has begun. When completed the network will extend from Ocean Terminal in Leith to the city centre and thence to the airport. Originally the separatists at Holyrood campaigned against the scheme and made their opposition to the proposed tram a central plank of their manifesto. Now they are in government – with all that lovely English cash to spend – they have undergone a Damascene conversion.
I’ve nothing against Edinburgh getting a tram; I like trams. What ever-so-slightly annoys me is the position of the now-Chancellor Alastair Darling – a Scottish MP representing a Scottish constituency (Edinburgh Central, actually!). When he was Transport Secretary he decided to take the axe to the tram systems planned for Leeds and Liverpool: two cities substantially larger than Edinburgh and, in the case of Leeds, a massively expanding local economy to contend with. As a result Leeds is today the largest city in the European Union without its own rapid transit system.
There you have it, folks! A Scot decides to wield the axe on a transport system for two English cities – even though transport for Scotland is a devolved matter. He now has the potential to reap votes from the creation of a tram system in his own Scottish backyard. Heaven forefend I be suggesting that the Scots get preferential treatment!!