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Five contractors line up for £300m school plan in North Lanarkshire

Northern Irish contractor Graham has been lined up against some of the biggest names in the industry to bid for a £300 million school building package in Scotland.

The company is pitching against blue-chip rivals Balfour Beatty, Bovis Lend Lease, Morgan Ashurst and Laing O’Rourke for North Lanarkshire Council’s Schools and Centres 21 framework.

The programme, the largest schools deal currently in procurement in Scotland, will see the council appoint companies to carry out both new build and refurbishment of primary and secondary schools, as well as work on other community facilities.

Skanska, HBG, Kier and Sir Robert McAlpine also expressed interest in the deal but are understood not to have made the final tender list.

With three slots available on the framework and just five bidders, the odds appear favourable. Bid sources are suggesting that Balfour Beatty is in a strong position, having previously worked with the council on its 24-school Education 2010 public private partnership deal.

Graham is based in Dromore, County Down, but has already dipped its toe in the local education market, having taken a £72 million deal to build three schools in the Scottish Borders.

The company, which opened new offices in Glasgow in February this year, is understood to be scouting locations for a further office in Edinburgh.

Tenders for the job are due to be returned on 2 June with the council awarding framework places in August.

The timing of the start of work on the first schools will be dictated by planning considerations, but it is expected that the framework will last for four years.

Recent scottish schools contracts

West Dunbartonshire (£105 million) BAM/HBG closed deal in February 2008 to build four new schools

Dumfries & Galloway (£100 million) Amey consortium signed nine-school deal in January 2008

Aberdeen (£110 million) NYOP consortium, including Stewart Milne, awarded 10 school contract in December 2007

Perth & Kinross (£136 million) Laing O’Rourke reached financial close in October 2007 for six learning campuses

East Dunbartonshire (£134 million) Morgan Ashurst signed six secondary school deal August 2007

Trio await Edinburgh bid decision

Teams from Balfour Beatty, Carillion and McLaughlin & Harvey are waiting for a decision on a £46.4 million deal to refurbish the Royal Museum in Edinburgh.

The three are understood to have returned bids for the job to revamp the Victorian building and are anticipating a decision on which of them has been successful in the next month.

Work will start on the project in August for completion in 2010, although the winning firm will also be responsible for nine months of exhibition works that will keep them on site until 2011.