Balfour seals £100m PFI deal to build 10 new schools

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The Independent Online

Balfour Beatty finalised a £100m deal to build 10 new schools - both primary and secondary - in Rotherham yesterday, bringing the value of its public services works' contracts to more than £3bn.

This is the largest community schools initiative of its type and will be undertaken by Transform Schools - a joint venture between Balfour and the financing firm Innisfree. Balfour is the sole contractor and will also be responsible for refurbishing five existing buildings.

The contract runs for 31 years and includes a facilities management service. "We are delighted to be working with Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council in providing a much-enhanced learning environment and in supporting the council's objective of raising educational standards across the borough," Mike Welton, Balfour's chief executive, said.

Balfour was named as preferred bidder for the schools project in October last year and construction on the new schools is scheduled to be completed in 42 months.

This is the second schools initiative Balfour has undertaken with Innisfree, after it backed Balfour in the building of nine schools, and the maintenance of 122, in Stoke-on-Trent in 2000. The Stoke contract is the largest schools refurbishment programme in England and is worth £153m.

The Rotherham deal is Balfour's sixteenth private finance initiative project - where the Government allows private companies to bid for the financing and running of public services. These projects include a £500m contract to build hospitals in Edinburgh, Durham and London and a road building contract worth more than £600m.

Balfour Beatty is also one of a consortium of contractors responsible for the running of London Underground's Bakerloo, Central and Victoria lines and it yesterday said it was close to finalising a £112m deal to build a new hospital in Blackburn.

A spokesman for Balfour yesterday said the company was confident the market for PFI deals was still expanding and there were encouraging signs that the Government would be making further contracts available.