Defence Estates announced a £4bn spending programme at the prime contracting conference, but many contractors criticised it for failing to provide more details on proposed schemes.

Prime contracting project manager Alison Slade told contractors that a series of five-year contracts would be let throughout the UK between 2002 and 2004.

Slade announced spending figures for 13 regions, which included £200 000-300 000 of work in Scotland and similar-sized packages in the English regions. Defence Estates commercial director Ted Pearson announced another £400m of work, including the redevelopment of a number of army barracks. However, Pearson failed to say when the projects would be advertised for tendering.

One contractor said: “We know they have money to spend, but so far they still haven’t provided us with any real detail about what these schemes are. The barracks redevelopment work looks interesting, but what does it entail? It’s the same meat, different gravy.”

We know they have money to spend, but they still haven’t given us any real detail


Another said: “There is nothing here that we haven’t heard before. First Pearson said prime contracts wouldn’t take as long as private finance initiative schemes to appoint a contractor, then Alison Slade said it would take two years before they appointed a preferred bidder on the schemes she announced. That’s longer than PFI, which currently takes about 14 months.”

Pearson was unavailable for comment.

Slade said: “Some of the schemes Ted announced will be let this year, but not all of them. There are defined needs [for the schemes] and they will be announced in due course.