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Bids back to square one

Home Office may force contractors to redesign immigrant detention centre in London

CONTRACTORS shortlisted for a £35 million immigration detention centre near Heathrow will find out next month whether they will be forced to completely re-bid for the project.

Home Office officials are set to meet the four consortia individually to outline the future of the detention centre in Harmondsworth, west London.

The bidders are Skanska/ Rollalong, Carillion/Group 4/ Caledonia, Kier/Wackenhut, Gleeson, and Interserve/UK Detention Services.

The design, build and operate scheme was put on hold two days before teams were due to submit final tender documents in February after a fire destroyed the Yarl's Wood complex in Bedfordshire.

A preliminary investigation revealed the fires were started because detainees were allowed to wander freely around the centre and organise the well coordinated attack.

The conclusions are believed to have led Home Office chiefs to clamp down on the 'free association' policy for inmates and order high-tech security features to be built into future centres.

Bidders said they now expect the inside of 300-place Harmondsworth to be redesigned in line with prison security.

A source close to the project said: 'Teams will be contacted at the start of next month to arrange a meeting with project managers. The Home Office has now drawn up plans to restart the bidding process because it is keen to get this project started.

'But it's unclear at this stage whether teams will have to totally redesign the building.'

Another project source said:

'We will make a decision on the financial viability of re-bidding the scheme after the meeting. A large scale redesign could push our tender costs through the £1 million barrier.'

A preferred bidder was due to be picked in April with work starting on site in May. But the scheme was put on ice after Home Secretary David Blunkett ordered an investigation into the fire at the Amey-built Yarl's Wood centre.