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Developers say education is 'ripe for PFI'

A conference in Edinburgh last week addressed by Maxwell Sharp aimed to encourage private sector interest in education and health schemes. It was told that "the education sector is ripe for PFI".

Andrew Gordon, chief executive of the Canmore Partnership, a Scottish-based company which works solely on PFI projects, said of the Falkirk project: "Max and his colleagues will walk into a new building in Stirling relieved of all responsibilities apart from teaching and administration." Mr Gordon added, however, that the value of the Stirling project "is as small as it can get in capital terms. There is not a lot of project to spread the costs around which makes it more expensive." He suggested local authorities should "cluster a number of projects together to bring them up to a viable size".

Bill Moyes of the British Linen Bank, who chaired the Edinburgh conference, said: "We have come out of the learning phase and are now moving into the deal-making phase. All we have got to hope now, after devoting so much time and effort to PFI, is that the policy does not change.

"I do not believe a Labour government would make any fundamental changes. Education is still relatively undeveloped in PFI terms. But we in the private sector have to be realistic: the public sector is financially constrained and we have got to recognise that they cannot just put up their prices like Marks and Spencer."

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