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Scots firms fume over further schools delay

Deals worth more than £600 million knocked back by months across Scotland

CONTRACTORS in Scotland were fuming this week after another PPP schools scheme was delayed, adding to a backlog of over £600 million of work.

The £180 million Edinburgh PPP schools scheme, one of the biggest on the market, has been delayed by two months after the council asked contractors to revise their bids. Only consortia featuring Laing O'Rourke and Balfour Beatty are in the race after Sir Robert McAlpine was deselected.

Across Scotland around £620 million of work for seven different councils has been delayed by a total of 21 months.

Delays have been blamed on councils pursuing best value or changing schemes and a backlog at the Scottish Executive, which reviews the schemes at critical milestones.

A source at one of the councils said: 'We haven't gone to the Scottish Executive yet as we are still squeezing the bidders for everything we can get. It's a bit behind, but while they're cutting each other's throats we need to take advantage.' A source at another council said: 'It's with the Scottish Executive at the moment.

But there are so many holidays over the summer that there's a bit of a backlog.' Contractors are frustrated by the delays and are finding it difficult to predict workloads. Earlier this year Dumfries & Galloway Council cancelled its PPP schools scheme after only attracting one bidder.

One contractor said: 'It seems like every week the council is telling us it will be soon, but not yet. It doesn't matter to us whether it's with the Scottish Executive or the council. We need to know if there is work coming out of it, but it keeps dragging on.' A spokeswoman for the Scottish Executive said: 'There is no hold up or backlog that we are aware of.'