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MARKET FORCES

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AMEY reaps the benefits of Government's private sector plans ...
AMEY reaps the benefits of Government's private sector plans

Construction group Amey's six-monthly interim results show a big increase in council work as a result of large-scale private finance initiative schemes.

Outsourcing of education provision by councils, and partnerships with education specialists NordAnglia and EduAction, had allowed Amey to increase its presence in the market.

Amey was encouraged by the government's commitment to PFI on the London Underground and elsewhere, as well as the expanding role of the private sector envisaged in the new education white paper.

The document says: 'The government's white paper on education strongly confirms our expectation that the opportunities for the private sector to assist in the improvement of Britain's educational performance are likely to grow rapidly in the future.'

In the first six months of 2001, the group secured more new work than it did in any previous year, with the public sector proving to be a major counterbalance to the economic slowdown.

Brian Staples, Amey's chief executive, said that while the election period had caused a reduction in flow of business, 'the new government has given exceptionally clear messages regarding the expansion of the private sector's involvement in the provision of public services.'

He said the outlook for the rest of the year was good. 'We expect the opportunities to increase progressively

as the government develops its programme of public service modernisation.'

Turnover for the six months from January was up by 32% to£397m with pre-tax profits of£18m.

Notts hunts for private partner

Nottinghamshire CC is seeking a private sector partner to build a one-stop call centre for council services and help provide other services such as ICT, finance and personnel.

Council leader Mick Warner (Lab) said the council was undertaking a review of how the public accessed services and how a call centre and other back-office facilities may improve delivery.

He said: 'We have taken a long, hard look at the type of support systems - IT, finance, personnel and so on - we have at the council. And while those services are doing their job it is clear there is a big gulf between where we are now and where we need to be.'

According to a KPMG study, the council needs£27m of new investment in IT, and for that reason the authority was seeking an external partner.

'Nothing is set in stone,' said Mr Warner. 'We would want to hear what potential partners have to say about improving our support and public access services, about making investments in Nottinghamshire, and about the future of our existing staff.'

The contract could be worth about£20m a year, the leader said. 'We'll work

hard to get the best deal to suit Nottinghamshire. If the terms aren't right, we won't sign.'

PFI experts head hunt rival staff

Private finance initiative consultant Addleshaw Booth has tempted away a three-partner team from US rivals Buchanan Ingersoll.

The hirings strengthen Addleshaw's position ahead of the next two waves of PFI hospital schemes announced by the government.

The Buchanan team of Diane Wilson, David Hartley and Michael Park have specialised in hospital and education private finance schemes, as well as street lighting and leisure schemes.

Mark Chidley, head of finance at Addleshaw Booth said: 'PFI projects represent one of the major areas of growth for the firm and the recruitment of an outstanding team in London with such an excellent reputation will enable us to make the most of that opportunity over the coming years.'

SLM wins gold in ne lincs leisure deal

North East Lincolnshire Council has signed a ten-year contract with leisure company SLM to manage seven of the council's leisure sites.

The contract covers three leisure centres, two swimming pools, the Barbara Garth community centre and the King George V Athletic Stadium.

Ian Bolton, deputy chief executive of North East Lincolnshire Council, said SLM was chosen for its ability to develop leisure facilities and make revenue savings.

£2m broadland it deal goes to fox

Broadland DC has awarded a£2m contract to run its IT facilities to Fox IT following a best value review.

Fox IT beat former contractor ICL and three other bidders in a competitive tendering process.

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