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TWO COUNCILS IN FIRST JOINT PFI DEAL

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Newham and Enfield LBCs have made PFI history by appointing Equion plc as preferred bidder for a joint PFI deal in ...
Newham and Enfield LBCs have made PFI history by appointing Equion plc as preferred bidder for a joint PFI deal in what is believed to be the first schools scheme in the country where two councils have worked together.

A new secondary school will be provided in Newham whilst in Enfield Lea Valley High School will be extended and enhanced, a new primary school will be provided in Edmonton and Tottenhall Infants School in Palmers Green will be rebuilt.

The bid from Equion plc working in partnership with Wates Construction beat strong competition from three other shortlisted bidders to be selected as preferred bidder by both councils. Equion plc already provides services at Highlands School in Enfield, one of the first PFI schools, which opened in September 2000.

The joint project which is supported by £66.5m credits allocated by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES). Using the expertise from previous schools PFI projects, the councils are sharing much of the workload associated with PFI procurement. Procurement costs for the councils have also been reduced by the joint appointment of financial advisers, ABROS, and legal advisers, Pinsent Curtis Biddle. The successful bid from Equion plc demonstrated substantial savings for both councils throughout the contract period stemming from the economies of scale resulting from joint procurement.

Glynis Vince, cabinet member for education in Enfield said: 'Although the decision-making processes differ between the two councils this has not been a barrier to making rapid progress to deliver the additional school places needed in both boroughs'.

Newham mayor Robin Wales said: 'From the outset we were looking for an innovative approach that would attract the support of the DfES and enable the council to use its experience of PFI to reduce costs. I am delighted by the success of this approach to enhance value for money'.

Masume Hidayatullah, bid manager with Equion, said: 'We were pleased to have the opportunity to bid for the larger package created by joint working which enabled us to reduce our bidding costs compared with the preparation of two smaller packages.'

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