Parker to meet top Borders rail mandarin as unease grows

SCOTTISH Borders Council leader David Parker is to meet the senior Scottish Government civil servant responsible for the Borders railway in the next fortnight to “discuss a range of issues”.

Mr Parker made the announcement at last week’s full council meeting when he was challenged on the future of the £300million project after IMCD, one of the two remaining preferred consortia to bid to construct the line, withdrew from the procurement process.

Only BAM UK is seeking the contract, which is due to be awarded later this year.

On Thursday, Conservative councillor Gavin Logan (Tweeddale East) asked Mr Parker whether he felt there was a danger the single consortium could now also withdraw from the contest.

Mr Parker declared: “Transport Scotland still awaits written confirmation that the IMCD consortium intends withdrawing and the First Minister [Alex Salmond] recently confirmed that the Borders Railway project will go ahead.

“The Scottish Government has delivered single tender contracts previously – the M74 extension which opened [on Tuesday] ahead of time and under budget clearly demonstrates our ability to deliver.

“BAM remains fully committed to the current tender process.”

Councillor Logan responded: “We are all aware of successful projects where there has been only one bidder, but do you agree that this lack of competition is not desirable? Should we also not be concerned about the long-term viability of this project?”

Mr Parker said: “Yes, it would have been better to complete the procurement with as many bidders as possible, but BAM is still in the race and the Scottish Government has other options.

“Mr Salmond has made it quite clear the project will go ahead and I will report back to councillors after my meeting with the senior civil servant which will discuss a range of issues.”

Mr Logan told TheSouthern: “The railway project is important, but we must not lose sight of the importance of investment in our roads. Superfast broadband must also be considered a priority as this would revolutionise businesses more than anything.”