SFT announces £1/2 billion contract preferred bidder

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By Bob Duncan

Alliance Community Partnerships, which is comprised of a group of companies, has been chosen as preferred bidder to deliver a £500m infrastructure investment programme across south west Scotland.

The “South West hub” programme is managed by the Scottish Futures Trust (SFT) and operates throughout Ayrshire, Dumfries & Galloway and Lanarkshire and is designed to deliver public buildings for “joint occupation”.

Under the programme “hub” facilities are built where bodies including, health, social work and local authorities all share the same accommodation to reduce costs and improve efficiency.

The £500m investment programme in the south west of the country is to be delivered over the next ten years and includes a range of health, education and regeneration projects.

Throughout Scotland the SFT “hub” programme is valued at £1.4bn. The SFT says services will improve if they are brought together under one roof and that this would cut costs.

Barry White, chief executive of the Scottish Futures Trust, stated: “The appointment of Alliance Community Partnerships represents a significant milestone in the delivery of hub as it marks the last preferred bidder to be chosen across the whole of the hub programme.”

Alliance Community Partnerships is made up of Equitix Holdings Ltd, Kier Project Investments Ltd, Galliford Try Investments Ltd and John Graham Holdings Ltd.

The announcement comes just weeks after the SFT revealed that financial support to build an additional 12 new schools has been found through savings across public infrastructure schemes.

In its annual benefits statement for 2011/12 the body showed that it had saved the Scottish public sector £131 million last year, £2 million more than the previous year.  The independently verified report illustrated that SFT had met its financial target to release savings of between £100m and £150m per annum for the third year in a row.
 
The trust, which was set up by the SNP government to find ways to avoid the excess profits made from Private Financing Initiative (PFI) model for public sector projects, believes its efficiency drive has cut costs on the school building budget so much that it can afford to construct another 12 schools.

These announcements contrast starkly with growing concern south of the border over the damage Labour-negotiated PFI contracts are doing to the English NHS.

Reports in recent weeks have demonstrated the scale of difficulties facing several NHS Hospital Trust in England and the failings of PFI and the privatisation agenda south of the border.
 
Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust, for example, is losing £100,000 a day, with services set to be substantially cut as a result.  Earlier this year it was discovered that the brand new PFI hospital in Wakefield which is part of this trust was regularly turning away emergency ambulances because of a lack of capacity.
 
The hospital was built under a Private Finance Initiative (PFI) agreement, costing an estimated £330m, which Adrian O’Malley from the mid-Yorkshire Unison branch argues is leaving the trust with crippling debt.