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Leadbitter seeks northern partner for academies bid

Major regional contractor Leadbitter group is looking to form a joint venture with a partner based in the North of England, in a bid to win lucrative work on national education frameworks.

The firm believes that the frameworks have been “short-sighted” in the past, doling out money to what it calls “complacent national contractors.”

The group has hired Phil Porter from Hochtief to spearhead its move.

Leadbitter chief executive Bob Rendell said: "Westminster has long held a short sighted attitude to procurement, with the end result that public money has unnecessarily been automatically channelled, and in many cases overpaid, to complacent national contractors.

“Especially at times like this, where value is required at every step of a project, it is about time that the Government woke up to the fact that more competition and access to frameworks for large regional contractors with strong local supply chains, would deliver better value for the client and, importantly, for the taxpayer."

Leadbitter missed out on the academies framework the last time it came up, on the basis that it was not a national player, and is seeking a partner to prove that it is a national competitor and that it can carry out the work.

Mr Rendell said: “The Government has been brainwashed by the Major Contractors Group into thinking that big is beautiful and the taxpayer is overpaying."

Leadbitter has been involved in a number of education projects, including the £26 million Bettws High School for Newport City Council, the £25 million Swindon academy, the £20 million Abingdon & Witney College and the £20 million Southampton City College.

The academies framework is set to be advertised before the end of April, with the winners due to be announced by October. The current framework consists of six contractors, and the new one will expand that to 10.

Leadbitter said it was in ‘early stages of discussion’ with a number of possible partners.

The firm is targeting a number of frameworks: the academies programme, the Building Schools for the Future programme and the Primary Capital Programme.