Plan to build 12 schools and revamp three others put on hold for six months as council overhauls consultation process.
Edinburgh City Council has delayed plans for an £80m private finance initiative deal to build 12 schools and refurbish others.

A representative of Edinburgh City Council’s education department said the decision to postpone the process for six months was intended to make the bidding process cheaper and more efficient for contractors.

The original plan to build seven primary schools, four special needs schools and a secondary school, and to refurbish three others was due to begin in earnest this year. The council was due to hold a conference for interested parties in June and compile a list of preferred bidders last month.

The council is now planning to hold a conference on 9 November, and will send out a questionnaire to gauge interest around the same time, said the council representative.

The questionnaire is due to be returned by the end of next month and preferred bidders will be selected in January 2000. Six to eight weeks after the preferred bidders are chosen, one company will be invited to negotiate the contract.

The spokesperson said: “The original plan was to take preferred bidders through the statutory consultation and then invite one company to negotiate. But we decided to delay because we didn’t want to drag the bidders through the consultation. We want to save them time.”

The statutory consultation process is where planners look at potential sites for schools and what their catchment areas will be. This involves input from teachers and parents, who might object to sites far from home or with certain catchment areas.

Edinburgh education department said the series of statutory consultation meetings started at the beginning of this month and would continue until March.

Bidders are expected to have fewer variables to deal with at the invitation-to-negotiate phase, as most of the consultation will be complete by that point.