CONTRACTORS of Edinburgh’s troubled tram line used “whatever means they could” to delay the project, an inquiry heard yesterday.

Edinburgh’s former head of transport Marshall Poulton said he felt “tactics” were being used by Bilfinger to stall the development, although they were “entitled” to within their contract terms.

The probe, chaired by retired judge Lord Hardie, is examining why the project was so over-budget and delivered years later than first planned.

Speaking at the Edinburgh Tram Inquiry, Poulton said: “It just seemed to me at a point there was always an issue and there wasn’t a willingness to get together to see a way out – everything seemed to go to dispute.

“It was a personal opinion by myself and it was shared with Tram Internal Planning Group members.

“I just felt the tactics that were being deployed, they were using whatever means they could to stall things.”

Although he said he believed this was the case, he failed to raise it with project managers Transport Initiatives Edinburgh (TIE).

Ross McClelland, counsel to the inquiry, put it to Poulton that money could have been saved if he had urged the body to resolve the dispute.

However, Poulton said it was not in his “remit” to advise TIE so raised it with council and project bosses instead.

The eventual £776 million bill was more than double the sum earmarked at the outset by the Scottish Parliament’s then Labour-led administration.

Poulton, who worked for City of Edinburgh Council between 2008 and 2013, also told the inquiry he spent little time overseeing the project.

This was despite him being made tram monitoring officer during part of his tenure as head of department.

He said the scheme accounted for “five per cent” of his workload, but admitted it should have taken up someone’s full attention.

Poulton, who was the project’s monitoring officer throughout 2009 and 2010, said: “Hindsight is a great thing. There was an underestimation of the role.”

The inquiry is due to continue in February.