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Bidders line up for £300m Scottish framework deal

Eight UK firms have expressed interest in North Lanarkshire Council’s schools programme

Some of the UK’s leading school building contractors have set their sights on a £300 million framework in Scotland as the country moves away from using Public Private Partnerships.

Balfour Beatty, Skanska, Bovis Lend Lease, HBG, Kier, Morgan Ashurst, Sir Robert McAlpine, and Northern Irish outfit Grahams have all already expressed interest in North Lanarkshire Council’s schools and centres framework that was formally advertised last month.

The council is bringing together delivery of its education and leisure buildings under a single contract that is expected to take over from its previous Education 2010 schools building PPP. Under that deal, Balfour Beatty built and will maintain 17 new schools for the council.

But the new deal will steer clear of PPP, instead using a framework of three contractors and traditional funding to build new primary and secondary schools, as well as community facilities.

PPP has fallen from favour in the country since the Scottish National Party took power in the Scottish Parliament last summer.

Potential bidders will return their prequalification documents by 16 January. Five firms will be chosen to bid with tenders issued to them in February. Bids will be returned in May with the winning firms appointed in July.

The small number of bidders relative to the number of places on the framework was welcomed by potential bidders.

One said: “It’s an outbreak of common sense from a client. They know resources for bids are tight, so rather than asking 10 firms to bid they are -picking the five that they like the look of to bid, meaning you are spending bid costs with a reasonable expectation you might win a place.”

EU procurement rules mean the framework is only allowed to last for four years before being readvertised but it is anticipated that the council will look to repeat the framework.

A similar framework has already been set up in South Lanarkshire, where Bovis Lend Lease, Kier and Morgan Ashurst were taken on to build up to 32 new primary schools.