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Axiom sole bidder for pound;180m project

Edinburgh's pound;180 million schools building programme is back on track after one of the bidders withdrew last year when it was passed confidential information.

The second phase of the city's public private partnership programme was in jeopardy after it emerged that Colin Dalrymple, former depute director of education, gave commercially sensitive information to a consultant who then passed it on to Balfour Beatty, one of two bidders for the contract.

It was announced yesterday that building work for some schools could begin as early as this summer.

Mr Dalrymple was sacked from his pound;90,000 a year post as strategic projects manager on grounds of gross misconduct. It is understood that an employment tribunal will hear an appeal against his dismissal next month.

Ewan Aitken, executive member for children and families, said that getting the programme back on track had been "a huge achievement".

He said: "What has been interesting is that, because we were forced to go back and assess the designs almost from the beginning, we have actually been able to involve the schools even more than before, and it looks as if this has produced even better results."

Balfour Beatty's withdrawal has left Axiom Education as the sole bidder. In a statement issued yesterday, the council said: "Subject to some outstanding issues, Axiom will be named as the preferred tenderer for the new build of eight schools. Work could start on some sites as early as this summer."

Roy Jobson, head of children and families, anticipated "work may be able to start without too much slippage".

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