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Civils firms plead with Scots not to retender water work

THE CIVIL Engineering Contractors Association is urging Scottish politicians not to retender a utilities framework worth billions of pounds because of fears that work north of the border will dry up.

Scottish Water appointed two consortia in 2003 - Stirling Water (Thames Water, Gleeson and Alfred McAlpine) and a United Utilities/Galliford team - to deliver £1.8 billion of improvements to the network under a four-year framework deal due to expire in April 2006.

CECA Scotland director Alan Watt is concerned that if the next £2 billion phase - from 2006 to 2010 - is retendered, Scottish firms could suffer badly.

Mr Watt said: 'The Scottish civils market has just begun to stabilise after a rocky period and, if the Scottish Parliament decided to retender the work, that recovery could be threatened.'

He wrote to Scottish Water stating:

'Much has been achieved in a short time but it is only now that delivery is flowing at anything like the rates anticipated. It would therefore seem beneficial to retain a similar model for the third phase to capitalise on the experience gained.'

A senior source at a contractor working for Scottish Water said: 'We're meeting our benchmark targets and giving good value - we wouldn't want to go through another full competition.'