Willmott wins Middlesbrough schools contract, leaving rival without a win under academies framework

Willmott Dixon has beaten Laing O’Rourke to the £90m Middlesbrough Building Schools for the Future scheme, it is understood.

The decision, which is expected to be announced within the next fortnight, means that Laing O’Rourke has not yet won a deal under the academies framework that was used to procure the scheme.

Although Laing O’Rourke is working on a £200m project in Newham, east London, and a £200m Manchester scheme, neither of these were won under the framework.

A source close to the bidding said: “Laing O’Rourke had put a good team in place. They will be sorely disappointed to have missed out.”

Laing O’Rourke and Willmott Dixon were the last two firms on the Middlesbrough shortlist, having seen off competition from fellow framework contractors Kier, Balfour Beatty, Carillion and Skanska.

It is Willmott Dixon’s third win under the framework, which is intended to speed up the academies programme, and is also used for BSF schemes worth less than £100m.

The framework, which was launched in January 2007, runs until 2010, although Partnerships for Schools (PfS), the body that runs the government’s school procurement, may decide to extended it. This may involve widening the membership of the scheme, a move that has been opposed by some contractors on the framework.

By the end of the financial year, the £45bn BSF initiative had only completed 12 schools, rather than the 100 planned. It has been subject to several recent reviews in an attempt to improve its effectiveness.

Last week, PfS confirmed that it was to implement measures designed to reduce the procurement period from 82 weeks to 75.

The Department for Children Schools and Families is also intending to issue a revised timetable for BSF next year, to fast-track some schools through the procurement process.

Laing O’Rourke and Willmott Dixon declined to comment.