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Schools refurb ditched

Capita Symonds, Amec and Mitie consortium £1m out of pocket after council rethinks schools scheme

A SCOTTISH consortium has been left more than £1 million out of pocket after a council scrapped its botched PPP schools scheme.

The Canmore consortium, which comprises Capita Symonds, Amec and Mitie, has been left counting the cost after Dumfries and Galloway Council scrapped its £110 million schools refurbishment programme.

The scheme, which had been criticised for focusing solely on refurbishment, will now be rescoped as a new build programme and readvertised.

An Amec spokesman said: 'We are severely disappointed.We have worked very hard over a long period of time trying to make it work and are disappointed that we have not progressed as preferred bidder.'

Canmore was left as the sole bidder on the project after Jarvis, Atkins/Mowlem and Morrison all pulled out.The council, which advertised the project in October 2001, decided not to select Canmore as a preferred bidder as it 'could not demonstrate value for money' The problem has been blamed on the original advertisement's focus on refurbishment, a claim which has been amplified by the council's switch to new build.

Andrew Gordon, chief executive of the Canmore Partnership, said: 'We put in a bid as good as the council could have expected and are disap-pointed it wasn't accepted.

'Clearly from what the council has said it is refurbishment that is the difficult part of a PPP scheme.We thought that we put in a bid as detailed as appropriate at this stage but the council felt otherwise.

'In some ways it's difficult being left as a sole bidder as you have to leap higher over the hurdles.That's always going to be a problem in Scotland as most of the large bidders aren't based here.'

Another Scottish PPP schools scheme went ahead despite Morrison being the sole bidder.

The firm is now Highland Council's preferred bidder for a £100 million contract.

Dumfries and Galloway's new scheme, worth £80 million, features only one refurbishment.