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Eight-school package whittled down to three

CONTRACTS SWINDON

THREE FIRMS have been chosen by a Wiltshire council to bid for a £97 million Private Finance Initiative schools project.

Jarvis will go up against Laing Group subsidiary Equion and Alfred McAlpine for Swindon Borough Council's package to build eight schools. Sir Robert McAlpine, Bilfinger Berger, Babcock & Brown/Balfour Beatty and the Mill Group also expressed interest, but were dropped.

The linchpin of the scheme is a new educational campus to be built in the north of the town. This will include a secondary school, primary school, two special needs schools and community facilities.

A further three secondary schools will also be built, along with a full overhaul of Hreod Parkway secondary school.

Invitations to negotiate bid documents will be sent out next month. No date has been set for tender return but a preferred bidder will be chosen in October.

The winner will then carry out finalstage negotiations with the council until the deal is signed next February. Work will start on all the schools immediately, with the first due for completion in September 2005. All construction work must be finished the following September.

nAlfred McAlpine reached financial close on a £17 million PFI schools deal for Conwy Borough Council in north Wales last week. The firm will build one secondary school and carry out major refurbishments to two others in Conwy and Llanrwst.