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Bidder chosen for multi-million pound schools scheme - 18 December 2008

A £750 million transformation of secondary education is set to begin following the selection of a bidder to help carry out Derbyshire's largest school building project. Derbyshire County Council has chosen Equitix as the preferred bidder to work in partnership with the authority to build the first six schools in the Government's Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme. Schools to be transformed with Equitix in the first £77 million phase are; Bolsover, Heritage, Springwell, Stubbin Wood, Shirebrook and Netherthorpe. Private finance initiatives (PFI) and design and build schemes will be used to create some of the new schools. The Equitix consortium, which includes local design and construct partners Bowmer & Kirkland and GF Tomlinson, was one of two companies to bid to work with the authority on the scheme. MITIE will be providing facilities management alongside Dell who are the consortium's ICT partner. A Local Education Partnership (LEP) will be set up to build the schools and equip them with ICT. A LEP is a partnership between the county council and a private building contractor that is formed to carry out all building and improvement work costing more than £750,000. The LEP is expected to be in place by February so work on refurbishing and rebuilding schools can begin by March. Councillor John Williams, leader of Derbyshire County Council, said: "We received very high quality bids but after careful consideration we have chosen Equitix to join us in creating new state-of-the-art schools.

"We felt they shared our vision for the future of secondary education in Derbyshire and will help us create centres of excellence that will meet the needs of 21 Century students. "The facilities these schools will offer at the heart of our communities will enormously benefit pupils and local people by providing incredible opportunities. "These schools will be more than just impressive buildings - they will be open for longer so everyone can make use of them and tap into adult education and better sports facilities. "Building Schools for the Future development will bring wider education opportunities for young people and create new jobs and bring major investment into Derbyshire."

Geoff Jackson, managing director of Equitix, said: "I'm delighted and proud that we have been chosen to work in partnership with Derbyshire County Council to create schools which will put the needs of students first. "We plan to create the highest quality buildings, specifically designed to meet their needs and be flexible so they can serve a variety of uses for students, teachers and the local communities. "These schools will meet the demands of the modern education system and look appealing and inspire learning."

It is intended that the six schools in north east Derbyshire will rebuilt or refurbished by 2010. A second group of six schools is outlined for completion by 2012. The second group of schools to receive a £66 million shot in the arm will be; Tibshelf Community School, Alfreton Grange Arts College (formerly known as Mortimer Wilson School), Frederick Gent School in South Normanton, Swanwick Hall School, Swanwick School and Sports College (formerly know as The Delves School), and Alfreton Park Community Special School. All other secondary schools in Derbyshire will receive funding in later stages of the Building Schools for the Future programme with work intended to be completed by 2023. Councillor Williams added: "The Government has already approved our vision for improving all secondary schools in Derbyshire, including those in the later phases of the programme.

"This funding is about more than just improving school buildings - it's about looking at the way secondary education is delivered and offering vocational courses so all young people have the chance to make the most of their potential.

"In all the schools we will consult with pupils, teachers, governors, parents and the local community to get well designed, efficient and modern buildings with state-of-the-art technology and equipment."

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Equitix Fund news

In November 2008 Equitix Fund I achieved a first closing with institutional money from UK pension schemes. The Fund has been structured to invest in PFI/PPP social infrastructure projects with a fund life of 25 years. The Fund will be managed by Equitix Investment Management Ltd, an FSA regulated entity. The Fund has a target size of £125m which is expected to be reached by summer 2009.

The Fund will invest in projects secured through EquitixÂ’s own proprietary pipeline of primary transactions as well as selective secondary acquisitions. The Fund has already acquired 2 mental health PFI projects and is preferred bidder on another three portfolio acquisitions.

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