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Byles aims to cut BSF bid time by 23 weeks

Secondary school chief Tim Byles has pledged to reduce the time it takes to secure a Building Schools for the Future contract by almost six months.

Chief executive of delivery body Partnerships for Schools Mr Byles said he wanted to see the 75-week procurement process reduced to less than 52 weeks.

PfS currently aims to get BSF contracts from OJEU notice to financial close within 75 weeks, but contractors often complain the process is too lengthy and expensive.

After launching a new minimum design standard for BSF work last week, Mr Byles said: “It is going to keep getting shorter and cheaper for people to enter BSF.”

He added: “At the moment we talk about procurement processes lasting 18 months, and I would like to see it down under 12 months. We are talking to the key parties about the time wasted because advisors elongate the process when they know the result won’t change.”

Willmott Dixon head of education Peter Owen backed the move, saying: “It can only help the process and reduce cost.”

Under the Minimum Design Standard, only designs meeting set criteria will proceed through procurement.

Proposed designs for BSF sample schools will continue to be assessed by CABE’s schools design panel, but only designs graded by the panel as ‘very good’ or ‘pass’ will be able to proceed into construction. Those graded ‘unsatisfactory’ or ‘poor’ at their final review will be stopped.

Mr Owen said: “We must design around the CABE criteria.”