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Council jumps the gun on schools bid

CONTRACTORS have reacted with dismay to a Scottish council's decision to rule out one of two consortia fighting for a £60 million schools deal weeks before a preferred bidder is announced.

Stirling Council stated on its website last week it had dismissed a bid from the Axiom consortium, which includes Laing O'Rourke and project manager Precept, in favour of a local team known as Gateway.A preferred bidder appointment is not expected until November.

A source at one firm said: 'How are you supposed to have a competitive tender when an announcement is made at such an early stage? It's a screamer.'

But the council's project manager Bob Gil said: 'We've checked we're not in breach of any procurement rules. Should negotiations falter we're reserving our option to going back to Axiom.'

The Scottish Executive is understood to have a representative on the council's steering group, which had to give the all-clear to sideline Axiom's bid.

But one disappointed firm said: 'This surely can't have been sanctioned by anyone in the Scottish Executive.'

The Gateway consortium includes Ogilvie, Perthshire builder A&L King and facilities management firm Forth Electrical Services.

Axiom declined to comment.