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One-horse race to rebuild Fife primary schools

Costs in Fife's primary school rebuilding programme may rise with only one bidder left in for the pound;60 million contract.

Only the Emblem consortium, principally made up of Miller Construction and the Bank of Scotland, is likely to be in contention by today (Friday) after Balfour Beatty, the construction giant, pulled out.

Fife originally awarded the contract for 10 new community primary schools to Jarvis but withdrew its offer after the company ran into financial problems. It subsequently asked the two other original bidders to retender.

Balfour Beatty then opted out after being asked to work within the designs and costs of Jarvis.

A Fife spokeswoman said: "It is our intention to conclude a contract before the end of the year so we can begin a phased construction programme of schools starting in January 2005. This would mean we would hope to open schools throughout 2006."

Emblem's bid will be scrutinised for cost-effectiveness and will then have to be approved by the Scottish Executive, the major funder. Running costs are due to rise to pound;174 million over the 25-year lifetime of the project.

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