15/09/2011 Newsnight Scotland


Similar Content

Browse content similar to 15/09/2011. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!



Tonight on Newsnight Scotland - After delays, disputes and


political brinkmanship the new contract for the Edinburgh trams


project has finally been agreed. But who's in the driving seat, the


council or the government? And as youth unemployment rockets


further education colleges are at the forefront of dealing with a


economic crisis among our young people. But is the government's


planned rationalisation about saving money or improving


education? Good evening. Finally, peace in our


time - or so it seems. From the city chambers in the heart of out


nation's capital came a dispatch this morning to let Edinburgh's


confused citizens know a deal had finally been done. The city council


and builders Bilfinger Berger signed an agreement in the dead of


night that should see trams run through Edinburgh's famous old


streets - eventually. It came just a few hours after the Scottish


government announced it would now take an active interest in the


project but not the blame should it all go wrong - yet again.


For a time it looked like Princes Street wouldn't see a return of the


diggers to work on the trams. But after months of political scrapping,


political manoeuvring, work will get under way this weekend. The


agreement between the council and the consortium was signed in the


small hours of this morning and that means an expensive and lengthy


court case has been avoided. The sense of relief and council leaders


was obvious. We have been working harder this since the mediation


process since March this year. Finally today we have reached a


situation where the papers have been signed. Yesterday the Scottish


Government stepped in announcing it would oversee the completion of the


project, crucially bringing with them �72 million of funding. Up to


five project managers from transport Scotland will fill senior


roles in the council's team and will have the power to veto


decisions. But they say the book stops here, responsibility for


delivering the trams on time and on budget will stay with the council.


Patience among Spurs as leaders in the capital is wearing thin.


need to know when the work is starting, when it is finishing,


what we can expect outside and watch relief measures are in place.


The trams are estimated to be up and running by the summer of 2014.


But this is far from the final hurdle - there are 700 areas along


the route were problems with utilities still have to be solved.


I'm joined now by the Transport Convenor of Edinburgh City Council,


Gordon Mackenzie, and by the SNP's, Colin Keir, who sits as both an MSP


and an Edinburgh councillor. Thanks for joining us. Councillor


Mackenzie, let's clarify what this deal is. Are the council in charge


of this project? Or are the Scottish Government now running the


show? The council chief executive chairs the project board which will


oversee the delivery of the project. As your report correctly said, the


book starts with us when it comes to funding. I am pleased Transport


Scotland will play a significant role in delivering the project to a


successful conclusion in 2014. say the book still stops with


Edinburgh City Council, but these advisers from transport Scotland


can overrule you can't they? There has always been the possibility of


Government ministers intervening to take funding away from the project.


In fact, we saw a bit of that recently with the Haymarket


decision when John Swinney stepped in. It is not a major development,


it makes it clear it. We are working together with them and I am


pleased to have them on board. figures of this project have been


all over the place. This deal you have signed with the contractors,


how much will the project cost and when will it be delivered? We have


said it should be within �776 million. And we have seen this


summer of 2014 us when we should see it. No do you know the final


figure now you have signed the final contract? It is not a fixed


price deal. What is the risk? �34 million, but that has been �460


million spent all ready for a start people will be concerned. You say


there is a �34 million and risk elements within his contract, but


you are confident it will be delivered in the 776? How


confident? I am more confident about the figures now than I have


been for a significant length of time. We have had this looked over


in far greater detail than when the project started out. We have looked


at it in Neum as different ways and transport Scotland have been


working with us with -- for several months. We have a good working


relationship with the contractor. Those are good indications.


Colin kier are you comfortable as an MSP and Edinburgh city


councillor, now have their hands all over this? We have absolutely


no choice in the matter. The choice that was given to us are


essentially, the cost of scrapping, the walk away cost �161 million.


That would have had to have come up the council revenue budget in the


first year. That would have meant decimation, complete decimation of


the council's services and we had nowhere to go. The choice that was


put forward then was in the final meeting between the Haymarket and


St Andrews Square. Haymarket is a no-go because of the obvious


question, there was no business plan. It would no doubt come in at


an annual loss of roundabout �4 million, which was their guest.


This just a vacation from the Minister essentially saying, we


will help out but we are not responsible doesn't really wash


anymore does it? We have to live in the real world. Do you have


decimated council services or do you have to work through those? We


have had a number of years of abysmal management of this project.


We have tried to keep our hands off it. But we have no option, for the


taxpayers of Edinburgh, this has to go to St Andrew Square, on budget.


Councillor Mackenzie, how confident should people be now that if you


are still in charge, this will be delivered given how pork your


record has been? I think the arrangements we have got in place


are strong a man may have been for some time. We have Transport


Scotland involved. We have a new team involved in managing it from


the council side and we have a new team of private sector advisers.


Were so much money had been spent it transports Gollum had taken an


active involvement earlier on in this project? I think Transport


Scotland have important skills and expertise to bring to the project.


I personally have no doubt they will be able to deliver projects


like this and it is the right way to be going. They have the ability


to recruit and maintain quality staff and they have a programme of


work. They would help to manage contractors. They would have helped,


there is no doubt about that. But I am pleased to have them on board.


We have very little time, do you believe you will be on a tram in


2014? A I hope after the commitments that have been given,


the new relationships that have been built, and quite frankly


getting rid of the previous management cannot harm. I hope it


is the case, we have no option but to make it happen.


Thanks for joining us this evening. We used to controversy over class


sizes and university tuition fees, but further education colleges are


however in the news. But as youth unemployment surges by 10% they are


at the forefront of dealing with the social and Emma Cook et --


economic crisis among junk people. The SNP Government is looking to


make savings through merging colleges. We will debate those


plans and a moment but we report on the often forgotten providers of


education. It may not have the same profile in


the media as the classroom or university, but there are 350,000


students learning to become anything from mechanics to


hairdressers, to builders, printers and farmers at 41 colleges. If that


sounds a lot for a small country, the Education Secretary agrees.


Mike Russell is of a mind to cut their number through mergers and


shared services to affect savings. In Glasgow they have begun the work,


three colleges emerged last year and another six are in alliance to


share courses and services. Two in Edinburgh are planning to merge. In


a sector that educator 20% of further education students at a


cost of over half a billion pounds a year. Meaning it can be half the


cost of university. Some qualifications like business


studies blinks straight into a university course, providing value


for money. But we do have unemployment hitting a ten-year


high, how key is the college sector? The ability for young


people and adult returners to come into a provision within a further


education college and get programmes that will at least


prepare them for the workplace is fundamental. Whether that be threw


up a traditional, Modern apprenticeship or Top Shop


programmes. The courses are flexible. When we have so much


youth unemployment, you can get, you are providing hands-on work for


young people? We are. It is a double edged sword. The first thing


is to keep people engaged and interested in education, even when


there is no employment. And coming through colleges, and ability to


work and associate with people in a similar position and also the


ability to go through a programme of study that will prepare them for


the workplace. We know we are in a recession and there is an


inevitability of coming out of the recession sooner or later. And for


young people coming into a place like this, no matter what the


programmes are, it is fundamental and important. What about the


principle of merging colleges, because it is part of an ongoing


process isn't it? The comments made by the Secretary in terms of the


outlets in Scotland, he seems to think and I agree with this, we


have the right number of outlets in the right locations because we have


a number of places and it is important we provide further


education. His 41 the right number or should it be less? Ronnie Knox


began his career at the college where he is now principal and chief


executive. He learned his trade as a motor mechanic, but believes


colleges provide a social framework for young people with no support at


home. Giving them a purpose keeps them from becoming a problem to the


community and makes them confident. There is already a process of


consolidation and murder and -- merger between colleges and money


is being saved. Where the new entity becomes too large it can be


unwieldy and there is evidence from England were some large City have


had mergers and they are already being done picks.


We are trying to get the mix as to the right critical mass. I think it


is making institutions by merger might be a good idea in certain


areas. I don't think one thing fits all, necessarily and I think it


will depend geographically where the institutions are. I think you


could be in danger, if it becomes too big it becomes unwieldy and


difficult to manage. College leaders are warning against the


expectation of immediate savings coming from mergers, and say the


absorb 10% budget cuts last year, a feat it will be impossible to


Earlier I spoke to the education Mike Russell and asked about the


plans to cut the number of colleges. It is making sure we have the


opportunities for every young person in Scotland. The core of the


policy is to ensloo -- ensure that young people get the opportunity to


go into training or education listen they leave school. And to do


that we have got to deliver more efficiently. But the college I


structure has been largely unchanged for 20 years. It was one


of the last great Thatcher reforms. Times have changed and there are 41


colleges, we need to deliver this more efficiently and that is what


we're going to try and do. How many colleges do you think we will have


in the future. Obviously not 41. We want to deliver on a regional basis,


the paper suggests nine regions, but it could be combinations of


colleges. We want to make sure that delivery re mains on the ground.


But the administration of the colleges means we not only have 41


colleges, we have 42 sets of terms and conditions four staff. We need


to do this better. I believe we can. You're thinking there would be nine


college names, but the buildings that we have now would remain?


want to see local delivery. That is one of the strengths of college.


But there has been a great deal of duplication of delivery. We say the


same in the universities. In each area some things need to be


delivered. But in some areas there is a choice and we don't want the


same to be available from each of them. You say that you will put now


expectation on colleges to have courses which prepare students for


careers in industries where they have a chance of getting a job.


People will be staggered that isn't what colleges are doing. Well we


can do it we -- better. I talked to the head of open university and


they are focusing on delivering where people can go into employment.


One of the important things about the paper with have published this


a learner journey. We have a successful thing called the


Scottish credit framework. It is like the template and we have to


make sure that is efficient and produces the best results and


allows people to move into work easy. - e -- easily. It will cost


money. You have given this pledge to 16 to 19-year-old, how much


akigs -- additional cash will you see. When we see the review we will


see. This is joining I. I believe we can do things more efficiently


and effectively even in a time of constrained resource. So with the


same cash? When you see the spending review you will know. But


we're going to. There is no doubt about this in the public sector, I


made this clear and again after to journ is, there are pressures on


the public purse and we have to accept those. I would rather they


didn't exist. If we were a normal nation they wouldn't be there. But


we're going to do more and sometimes for less cash. Perhaps


nine colleges, you have talked about mergers amongst Scotland's 19


high ireducation institutions. How many are we looking at of those?


The institutions are all different and are not the same as the


colleges. We talk about this possibility of a regional approach.


Scottish universities do serve their own regions, but many serve


the nation and they are international institutions. So


there are different issues about they grow and work together. That


will require more thinking. This is a consultation. This seems to be


the right direction, but we are looking for ideas. Spent time with


university principals and they're thinking and the university of


Scotland is working with very hard on the issues of efficiency. So so


Aberdeen has introduced a new approach. Robert Gordon is focused


on key specialisms. But also on the oil and gas industry. You can make


these arguments for every institution. It is a different set


of issues, there needs to be greater efficiency, but we have 19


institutions that deliver locally, regionally and nationally and


internationally and the college sector we have 41 institutions


which deliver largely locally. So there are different issues. What


this paper does is says we need to lack at these and find a better way


of doing this and it invites the whole community to come in and


discuss how we do this. Ends of the year we will have the responses and


we have a review going on too of edge caution and then we will move


forward with legislation. There is a veiled threat in this to


principals, perhaps principals who disa degree with Mike Russell and


the SNP. There is no such thing. You quote that, what is the veiled


threat. The governance review is chaired by university principals.


You move on to the fact there needs to be greater democratic account


yapblt. That is what the Conservatives made the accusation


yesterday and I rebutted it successfully. What it says this


these institutions spend a great deal of public money. My duty as a


spending minister is to make sure they account for that. There has


been criticism, particularly in the universities of the way in which


university governance has got out of kilt we are public megt


situations -- kilt we are public pegtations. The tradition of the


democratic intellect is important and it is a way we succeeded and we


need to go back and treasure that. Thank you. Time as usual for a look


at tomorrow's newspapers. First the Scotsman and they're going on the


story which was covered in Reporting Scotland earlier,


pensions row could cost Scots �8 pensions row could cost Scots �8


million. That is the difference between the Scottish Government's


view and that of the UK view and a picture of Halle Berry who is


filming in Glasgow. The Herald reveals Scotland's care charges


lottery. And the Times, I need miracle, that is the UBS trader.


From all of us, good night. Hello it is not as cold tonight. Tomorrow


won't be as sunny. But still some fine, bright conditions in the


south. Only one or two showers. Further north a lot of cloud. Some


rain and that could be heavy. As a result it will be noticibly cooler.


Showers across the Midlands. One or two in East Anglia. For much of the


south, still dry and bright. Temperatures up to 21 in London.


High teens in the South West. A few showers in south Wales. A wet


morning in North Wales. Same story in Northern Ireland. The afternoon


should be brighter. Some showers, the showery rain becoming more


extensive in Scotland. It will feel cooler without the sunshine.


Saturday is another cool day, with some stiff winds blowing and lots


of blustery showers across the country. More sunny spells on


Saturday. The showers when they come could be heavy. Particularly


Download Subtitles