A TEAM featuring Costain and Alfred McAlpine is close to victory in the chase for a major £132 million health scheme.
The two firms are part of the Arden consortium, which is understood to have seen off bids from rivals Investors in Health (Balfour Beatty/Mill Group) and Carillion.
The £132 million Three Shires PFI contract is a batched scheme for three NHS Trusts - the Derbyshire Mental Health Services NHS Trust, East Lincolnshire Primary Care Trust and the Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust.
The chosen contractor will build and maintain mental health and community care facilities for all three. Construction work is due start at the beginning of 2006 and be completed by the end of 2007.
The project has an estimated value of £60 million split between the trusts, but there is an option for a further £72 million.Work will include estates services, building maintenance, landscaping and may go on to include the provision of hospital equipment.
Carillion quit the running at an early stage, leaving the remaining consortia to fight out a two-way scrap.
The Arden consortium is partner-elect, but the trusts will not confirm their final preferred bidder until the end of July. Investors in Health is thought to still be on board to make the process 'semi-competitive'.
Balfour Beatty is also part of the Consort consortium that won the £520 million Birmingham hospitals PFI scheme.
Consort is bidding in a second batched hospitals project, known as SHIFT, which comprises work at hospitals in Tameside and Salford.
It is believed that just two rivals are left in the running for the £240 million scheme, with a winner expected to be announced next month. Consort is in the running against Laing subsidiary Equion. Industry sources said Catalyst, headed by Bovis Lend Lease, has pulled out of contention, although the NHS trusts said that all three were still bidding the project.
The SHIFT project has already run into trouble after Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust pulled out, stating that it preferred the ProCure 21 procurement route. Further problems occurred when all the bids came in too high and the client had to 'recast affordability'