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Tilbury Douglas/Kvaerner Prison firms preferred

CONSORTIA fronted by Tilbury Douglas and Kvaerner are the preferred bidders on two privately financed prison schemes in Greater Manchester and Bristol, totalling £87 million in value.

The two consortia were among four short-listed for both the £55 million Salford job and the £32 million proposal at Pucklechurch, Bristol. The preferred bidder at Salford is UK Detention Services (UKDS), which includes Tilbury Douglas.

Premier Prison Services, featuring Kvaerner, Wackenhut and Serco, has reached the same stage at Bristol.

The two groups to miss out are: Bridgend Custodial Services, comprising Costain, Skanska, Securicor and W S Atkins; and Group Four/Tarmac.

The Prison Service hopes to close both deals by early next year and plans to open both prisons by October 1999.

Herb Nahapiet, chief executive of UKDS, said: 'If all goes well, we hope to start on site at Salford in April 1998.'

UKDS is jointly owned by Sodexho Alliance from France and US firm Corrections Corporation. Tilbury Douglas joined UKDS earlier this year after Mowlem and Sir Robert McAlpine sold their stakes in the group.

Architect HLM and engineer Ove Arup are working on the Salford proposal, which comprises an 800-bed category B prison on the site of the former Agecroft Power Station.

The £32 million Pucklechurch scheme comprises a 400-place jail on the site of a redundant remand centre.

Although the two projects' capital costs are £55 million and £32 million respectively, the deals are worth far more over the 25-year period of the concessions.

UKDS stands to net £205 million for operating the Salford scheme with Premier collecting £120 million from the Bristol deal.

The proposals are the fourth and fifth privately financed prison schemes in England and Wales to go ahead, but a sixth proposal at Birmingham has been abandoned because of planning problems.

The Home Office will now extend the existing Winson Green prison in Birmingham, adding 450 places under a traditionally-funded scheme.