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Birmingham Four chasing £40m PFI education deal

FOUR consortia have been short-listed for a privately-financed £40 million education scheme in Birmingham.

The bidders are: Creative Schools Partnership; Education Link; Galliford; and Tilbury Douglas. The client is Birmingham City Council.

Creative Schools Partnership is led by financier Rotch and includes Ballast Wiltshier, architect Ellis Williams and quantity surveyor Silk & Frazier.

Education Link is fronted by Christiani & Nielsen and Wates.

Birmingham City Council has issued invitations to negotiate and these must be returned by January 30, 1998. The council's head of strategic procurement, Mike Hawkins, said: 'We hope to come down to two consortia by Easter and close the deal by September 1998.'

More than 80 groups tried to prequalify for the flagship deal, which is the most advanced proposal of its kind in England and only the second to reach this stage in the UK.

It comprises a 30-year concession to design, build and finance 10 schools in Birmingham and includes the delivery of some services.

The proposed sites are existing schools at Calshot, Perry Beaches, Marsh Hill, Clifton, Yardleys, Cockshut Hill and Birches Green.

There are two schools apiece at Calshot, Marsh Hill and Birches Green.

The scheme includes an application for National Lottery cash to fund work at Perry Beaches School. The council is about to submit joint bids to the Arts and Sports Councils.

Rotch project manager Julian Thorpe was confident the proposal would be used as a blueprint for other schools in the UK.

He said: 'The issues that Birmingham council faces are not that different from those facing other councils across the UK.'

The only other advanced deal, in Scotland, is Falkirk council's £60 million proposal covering five schools.

A council meeting is scheduled for today to appoint a preferred bidder from a short list comprising Balfour Beatty/Morrison, HBG GA and facilities management outfit Portfolio.