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Gurkha team lends military precision to £12bn PFI job

A team of Gurkhas is helping put up new living accommodation at an army barracks in Wiltshire for soldiers returning from Iraq.

The work at Tidworth is being carried out under the £12 billion Project Allenby & Connaught PFI scheme, which is headed by the Carillion-led Aspire Defence team and runs through until 2041.

Under the terms of the £1.2 billion construction programme, Carillion is putting up or refurbishing over 500 -buildings for the MoD across a series of sites in Wiltshire and at Aldershot, the home of the British Army, in Hampshire.

The Gurkha team consists of former soldiers who have been picked to assemble the modules which are made by Corus Living Solutions at its plant in Shotton, north Wales. Rollalong, based in Hampshire, is also supplying modular buildings.

Paul Dempster, the man in charge of building work for Aspire, said the Gurkhas had been chosen because they had a good focus on health and safety standards, looked after each other and had a good work ethic.

He added: “They give high standards of work, commitment, dedication and reliability.”

Over 100 buildings have been completed so far under the building programme which is due to finish in 2016.

Each building is made up of just over 50 modules, which are bolted together by the Gurkhas in around two weeks before a further 12 weeks are needed for cladding, roofing and services.

Much of the focus has been on Tidworth, which is worth around £360 million of the total spend, but Mr Dempster said defence secretary Des Browne will go to Aldershot in June to fire the starting gun on the Aldershot phase of the work which carries a Ł300 million price tag. More than half of the work is being done at Tidworth and Aldershot.

The next three years will see the peak of construction with around 1,400 men needed.

The refurbished Aldershot site will be home to Team GB for six weeks ahead of the 2012 Olympic Games being held in London.

The big picture

  • Allenby/Connaught is the largest construction PFI ever let.

  • 104 new/refurbished buildings delivered so far

  • 2,000 single living bed spaces provided so far

  • Sites covered by the project are home to 18,700 soldiers

  • 11,500 en-suite bedrooms to be maintained and refurbished

  • Work will involve constructing 365 new buildings, refurbishing and altering 168 more and demolishing a total of 425