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15Oct92 UK: FALLING TENDERS SHOWS UP NORTH-SOUTH DIVIDE - RICS.

The stark North-South divide in the industry's fortunes is highlighted in the latest tender price figures from the surveyors institution RICS.The study found that over the past three years tender prices in the North-West fell 10 per cent while in the South-East they fell 26 per cent.The falls in Scotland were the slightest - 7 per cent - against the average fall in tender prices of 27 per cent in the hardest hit area, Greater London.But according to John Gravett of the research department at cost consultant Gardiner and Theobald, anecdotal evidence suggests that tender prices in the hard-hit South are firming up.Meanwhile, in the Midlands and the North, where there is slightly more work, tender prices are still falling fast.Mr Gravett said: 'In the South of England contractors have cut tenders more than to the bone - they are making a loss.'But now it seems if a company has a reasonable level of work the indications are that they are now starting to put in more sensible and realistic tenders.'He said that the spread of tenders put in for jobs in the South of England had widened.This indicated that while some contractors are still buying work others, which have jobs on their order books, are no longer prepared to bid below cost.But the RICS believes tender price falls will continue. Slight indications of a recovery early this year proved to be 'yet another green shoot ploughed under by the unremitting pressures of the recession.'